My name is Nayef Din and I have just published my first novel, The Last Gundir.
A lion and a unicorn. A kangaroo and an emu. Those are the animals on the front covers of my two passports.
I was born in Kuwait and left when a nearby restless dictator invaded with his tanks in 1990. I grew up in Hornsey in beautiful north London and graduated with a Masters in Civil Engineering from Imperial College (with 2 years as a Midshipman in the Royal Navy whilst at university). I spent a gap year studying at the Sorbonne in Paris (who doesn’t?) before starting my career. In 2008, I moved to Brisbane to conduct the structural design of the road tunnel that nobody seems to use (Airport Link).
I’m passionate about history and am one of those people who can (and sadly does) spend hours in museums. I sincerely believe that if you live somewhere, you should know where that place has come from. After all, it is a continual play which has you amongst its current cast. Wouldn’t you want to know about the actors who were on stage before you? What did the stage look like before you entered? What dramas unfolded with the local characters before you?
One day, I came across a dusty 2nd edition copy of Reminiscences of Early Queensland (C.C.Petrie, 1932) in Bookfest (a huge bi-annual secondhand book festival in Brisbane). It was a nugget of gold in the rabble for it revealed a fascinating world set in the same place I was living in. It furnished details of the idyllic extraordinary society that lived in total harmony with the environment here for tens of thousands of years.
I felt inspired to write a story set in that world to invite the reader to learn more about this highly evolved intelligent civilisation that thrived on spiritual rather than material values. I found the kinship system and the totemic responsibilities truly remarkable and arguably important to understand in today’s world. How would the world look like if we all showed the same kindness to strangers and looked after the environment in the same way?
At the same time, I wanted to tell the story of 18th century British exploration. Sitting in the British Library in London, I discovered a strange anomaly between the two Endeavour journals (James Cook and Joseph Banks) for a certain date. I researched deeper and found a startling turn of events that challenged the established narrative on Australia’s history.
In 2017, I designed and delivered the EY Bama Gala event which improved the understanding of Aboriginal culture amongst staff and members of the public.
“Mate, I learnt more about Aboriginal culture in 2 hours of your event than 7 years of school” was the general feedback I received. In recognition of my project and its impact on the community, I was presented with an award from the Turrbal people.
I hope you enjoy the journey into Australia’s past that The Last Gundir invites you to take. A link to a podcast from the wonderful Wi3W channel is below.