“The past is a palimpsest. And Nayef Din’s lush and painstaking recounting of it strips back time to an intricate, initial canvas: a layer where the clash and convergence of cultures sweeps on to irreversible material outcomes, both plotted and unforeseen.
Today’s city of Brisbane is that palimpsest’s present, paramount lamination. Yet here the past is never really behind us. It swirls about, surrounding us still. It is embedded in the sedimentary layers beneath our unconscious feet.
This story is a poignant reminder that every day we pass over and through this invisible past. We should step cautiously, for we tread continually upon lost dreams.”Raymond Evans, Historian and Poet
“We may get to see our history of Southern Queensland being presented in this unique way, a way I believe will promote positive understanding of ourselves about our places in history.”Maroochy Barambah, Turrbal Songwoman and Law-woman
“This is a fascinating tale of life in what we now call Queensland prior to the arrival of Europeans. The portrayal of daily and ceremonial life of the Turrbal Nation and their neighbours makes the reader reflect on the changes wrought upon First Nations peoples in the last 240 odd years, and Din’s characters are easy to get attached to.Phillip Gweagal Canham (reviewed on Goodreads)
The shifting perspectives of Turrbal life and the developmental stages of Cook’s expedition provide an interesting juxtaposition of two wildly different worlds who don’t know they’re about to collide, and the research behind the historical accounts is deep. There are many moments when reading these chapters that I found myself in shock at how these events transpired.
Overall, I was always going to be engaged in this story as an Indigenous man, but since finishing the novel I find my mind often wanders to what comes next. Din’s writing style is easy to read, and hard to put down. I eagerly anticipate future reading, and I can only imagine the direction this story will take. If you’re interested in Australian history, Indigenous cultures, or just an exciting depiction of the survival of the world’s oldest living cultures against invasion masked as colonialism, you need to read this!”
“An extraordinary book I could not put down.
I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed this book. It is beautifully written with such imagination and detail that you feel completely immersed in the history of our first nations people. The way the author uses the story to explain the culture, beliefs and ceremonies of our indigenous people in such detail is so fascinating you won’t be able to put it down. Clearly a great deal of research has gone into the telling of these stories, and obtaining the historical material included in the book. This is truly an exceptional book and one which should be included on the Australian high school curriculum. Every person in Australia should read this book. As an aside I did struggle to get into the book initially, so don’t be put off if you have the same experience, if you persevere it really hooks you in so you cannot put it down.”
– S (reviewed on http://www.amazon.com.au)
“Such an important book
Written with humor, sensitivity and so very well researched. I learnt so much about the lands I call my home, the people who first lived here and their deep respect for life and nature. No-one will ever really understand why these lands were declared Terra Nullias. Highly recommended read!”
– Natalie (reviewed on http://www.amazon.com.au)
“Amazing. Wow. Get your hands on a copy of this ASAP. If you’re in Mianjin (Brisbane) read it. If you’re in Australia, read it. If you’re in the world, read it. So important, also so, so bloody interesting. I haven’t enjoyed a novel so much in a long time. Magic.”
– Beller Foster (reviewed on Goodreads)
“I love this book. I have lived in Brisbane most of my life but never really learnt a lot about the traditional custodians of it. This book is engaging and tells an interesting story of what life was like for the tribe; their initiations, festivals and customs through the early lives of brothers Bunji and Jarrah. In alternating chapters it tells the story of how the British took possession of the eastern coast of Australia and beat France – using new information that I’d never heard before in school. The author has used a lot of historical sources and the book is well referenced. Once you get going I found the story compelling and hard to put down. Read it and learn something while being entertained!”
– Jo Sorrentini (reviewed on Goodreads)
“Nayef Din, this is an excellent book!! I’m just in the throes of the end – utterly captivating!
Very glad that you persevered to bring this to us. Clearly a HUGE amount of background work behind both storylines.
Congratulations on a sterling book, well done.”
– Vern Simmons, Solihull (UK)
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Last Gundir and learned so much about Aboriginal culture and the “discovery” of Australia. I especially liked the story of Bunji and other aspects of the Indigenous way of life.”
– G. Kirkup, Manchester (UK)
“I feel I’ve learnt a lot. I really had no idea about the Aboriginal way of life. I really got into it.”
– M.West, London (UK)
“Reading your fantastic story of Bunji and the boys growing to become men (hunters and gundirs) in the settings and context and environment you have so cleverly woven your story into has been affirming and inspiring.
I also have had a lifelong (almost) obsession with maps, so having the early explorer mapping and Brisbane area maps linked to your work was great.
The story is such an insightful view of the clash of nations and such an affirmation of the resilience of indigenous peoples even before the influences of European invasion. The representation of their community and spiritual ‘happiness’ is also shown in the joy you portray through the boy’s life passages. Really admired and enjoyed your writing and research and the wonderful story. I wish you every success with your writing and future stories.”
– Ian Blyth, Noosaville (QLD)
“It shines a much-needed light on the important history of this land on which we walk.
Your efforts to enlighten the current generations of Brisbanites on our First Nations people, their cultural understandings, and their ways is commendable. Your writing style is descriptive, imaginative and engaging.”
– Greg Baikaloff, Brisbane (QLD)
“I’ve highly enjoyed reading The Last Gundir and would recommend this book to any reader who wish to discover Aboriginal and Colonial history of Australia. Nayef Din artfully blends historical facts and fictional story of characters we can emotionally relate to while discovering hidden treasures of Queensland that Din is revealing to us. Din’s knowledge and understanding of Australian aboriginal communities and cultures is fascinating, and he is masterfully bringing it to us. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Australian past and present.”
– Marko, Brisbane QLD (reviewed on Goodreads)
“The Last Gundir” cleverly weaves together two stories. The first is set in the lush subtropical climate of modern-day Queensland, Australia. It is a tale of coming of age as a group of Aboriginal boys journey towards manhood, learning and adopting the rich traditions of their cultural heritage. The main character, Bunji, is an introspective lad from the Turrbal tribe who finds himself the victim of a savage attack of sorcery. Yet in spite of all expectations he survives, earning him the respect and fear of the other tribes. The plot seamlessly moves in and out of the mystical world, where dreams, visions and dark magic are set adjacent to the rich descriptions of Australian flora and fauna.
The second story begins in 18th century Britain and tells the tale of British discovery, and subsequent settlement, of the eastern coast of Australia. Rather than merely rehashing the common narratives of our age, author Nayef Din demonstrates extensive research into the decisions made, and the potential reasons for them. The account is nuanced and presents a somewhat unusual combination of actual accounts (such as letters and journals) interspersed among the fictional reconstruction.
This isn’t a swashbuckling tale of heroes and villains – it is a story about people and the juxtaposition of two vastly different cultures. It is a fine first novel, a fascinating journey into the beautiful, and yet largely unknown, world of Aboriginal life. The closing commentary section reflects the author’s passion and joy in the painstaking research conducted – both in terms of Aboriginal culture as well as British colonial history. He is to be commended – I look forward to the next novel!”
– John Kerr, (UK), reviewed on Amazon.co.uk
“The author has obviously spent a lot of time researching the aboriginal culture, I enjoyed the story and felt like I had learned something about a society completely alien to my own. For a first novel this is very impressive.”
– Matthew W (UK), reviewed on Amazon.co.uk
“Having appreciated your talk at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens on May 9, my family gave me a signed copy of The Last Gundir. I have REALLY enjoyed it and I thank you. Your engaging portrayal of the First Nations of our land and the life they lived, rich in culture and knowledge of its bounty and their need to tend and care to sustain the land to feed people into the future.
Your research into the people on the other side of the world as they searched to find and secure ‘Australia’, astonished me and your unexpected findings must have given you added delight. I was so impressed by your depth of research.”
– Glis Wotton, Brisbane Botanical Gardens QLD
“It’s fascinating to think that events just like those described in The Last Gundir actually happened in the place we now call home. A fascinating story for anyone living in Australia.”
– Lucy L, Brisbane QLD
“I was just looking for some Indigenous history on Kangaroo Point and one search led to another and I found your book. I am a teacher who has written a number of English units and it is so difficult to find what you appear to have written.”
– Vanessa Caldwell, Brisbane QLD
“It’s a great piece of work Nayef. Can’t wait to read your next one!”
– Nicole Neal, Melbourne (Vic)
“Your wonderful commentary gives a great deal of extra data. However, I found I wanted to read some of that before I was very far into the book and I felt that some of it would have been better placed after the introduction and before Chapter One. I have just been on your website and read your fascinating blogs. You have done a lot of research and I feel sure you know more about my country than I do and I am 83 so I hope you keep writing them and I look forward to finishing The Last Gundir and I look forward to your next book.
– Margo Hutchison, (Brisbane)
“When you approached me in Riverbend Books and asked me about the cover of The Last Gundir my response was that I could not discern what book was about because the images on the cover represented so many different things. Now that I have read the book I can see how well these different things come together. I certainly enjoyed reading The Last Gundir though at times it was not an easy book to read.
The Last Gundir mixes fiction and non-fiction as well as telling not just one but two stories and it also paints a vivid picture of aboriginal life…And being written by an engineer, it is detailed and precise.
The end result is a fairly complex book which was a bit daunting at times and might be off-putting to some readers. Nevertheless it was a book that I found hard to put down and one which added a lot to my knowledge of aboriginal life. The insights into the ‘possession story’ were interesting and all too credible.
I look forward to seeing your next book.”
– Peter of Hornsea, (Brisbane)
“Incredible!!! I feel more connected to where I live now.”
– Brook Rudolph, Mudjimba Island (QLD)
Just finished your book. Read with great interest. Good research and nice extrapolation.”
– Mike Duke, (Boonwurrung Country)
“Nayef mate!… loved the book… Brilliant stuff… keep it up!…”
– Anonymous voicemail received from a reader in May 2022
I hope you had a good weekend.
I wanted to thank you for writing and publishing The Last Gundir. What an amazing book!
Arriving in Australia over 17 years ago from the UK I didn’t know much, if anything about Aboriginal culture but have found myself increasingly and acutely aware of the damaging impact my ancestors had (and continue to have) on the First Nations people.
This book should be taught at every school in Australia (and the UK). We all need to understand history by feeling it, not just learning it, and your book does an amazing job of giving a rich and vivid insight into life pre-colonisation.
Thank you again Nayef.
– Gareth Jones, Brisbane.
Thank you for this spectacular book Nayef Din! An incredible historical fiction which manages to weave so much history into an amazingly gripping story. So much research and work must have gone into this. Living in Brisbane (Mianjin) I am blown away by the insight into the amazing culture, nature and lifestyle of this area’s first peoples. With maps of original peoples, place names, meeting places, bora rings, pathways and more, and endorsement from the Turrbal people, I’ve been transported into a world where this is Jagera and Turrbal ground, and we just happen to live here at the moment. The story of Bunji, his little brother and family, will resonate with me for years. I’m so glad that first nations people here are so resilient, to be maintaining connection to country, each other, and fighting to be heard. Australia is starting to listen, and this novel is a wonderful place to start. I’ll be gifting this book to my children who were born here, and they too will learn a little more about the rich history over thousands of years of the place they call home. Can’t wait for the sequel!“
– Cheryl Taube, Brisbane.