Wild Cat Falling was a major breakthrough when it was initially published in 1965, hailed as the first Aboriginal novel. Colin Johnson, as Mudrooroo was then known, saw the book republished again in 1992. Despite its age, Wild Cat Falling is still a disturbing story, not least of all because almost forty years after its first appearance, and the improvements in Aboriginal conditions and rights that have occurred, the book still resonates far too strongly with the less than satisfactory current life conditions of a number of indigenous Australians. In the book, an unnamed (this can be read as symbolising the effacement of Aboriginal culture or as an Aboriginal way of referring to others) young black man takes on white society, believing it to be against him. This losing battle develops from a sense of anomie, due to racism, which ensnares him in an ongoing cycle of imprisonment-release-imprisonment. Unfortunately the protagonist discovers far too late (he is on his way back to Fremantle jail) that the major key to turning this situation around is a stronger connection with his traditional heritage.
These themes and issues are taken up again by Mudrooroo specifically through revisiting the main character and Freo' jail in his subsequent and more experimental novels which complete the Wildcat trilogy, Doin' Wildcat (1988) and Wildcat Screaming (1992). Indeed, Mudrooroo has consistently visited Aboriginality and the problems faced by indigenous Australians in a wide variety of genres. In terms of his novels though, books like Master of the Ghost Dreaming (1991) demonstrate a far greater degree of aesthetic sophistication than any of the Wildcat stories. There are also now substantial numbers of contemporary and interesting novels of Aboriginal experience, by both black and white authors, including Sally Morgan's My Place (1987), Archie Weller's The Day of the Dog (1981), and Thomas Keneally's The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (1972).
Since Wild Cat Falling's...
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