Mullumbimby – book club discussion questions
Mullumbimby is available as one of the Gold Coast Libraries’ Book Club Kits.
**Please be aware that book discussion questions may contain spoilers**
A darkly funny novel of romantic love and cultural warfare. When Jo Breen uses her divorce settlement to buy a neglected property in the Byron Bay hinterland, she is hoping for a tree change, and a blossoming connection to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. What she discovers instead is sharp dissent from her teenage daughter Ellen, trouble brewing from unimpressed white neighbours, and a looming Native Title war among the local Bundjalung families. When Jo stumbles into love on one side of the Native Title divide she quickly learns that living on country is only part of the recipe for the Good Life. Told with humour and a sharp satirical eye, Mullumbimby is a modern novel set against an ancient land.
- How did this novel deepen your understanding of Indigenous land title claims and Indigenous Australian’s attachment to country?
- Mullumbimby contains many references to literature, music and art. What references did you notice? Did you feel this enlivened the novel or do you think it may eventually date it. Why do you think the author included these references?
- “Horses and dogs were the people for her; her favourite humans all lived in the pages of novels” This is a quote from page 5. Discuss how Jo’s reticence to get close to people and emotional damage from her previous marriage affects her relationship with Ellen and Twoboy. Do things change after Comet’s tragic death? After Ellen’s accident?
- Half way through the novel Lucashenko depicts scenes of indigenous magic and spiritual forces. Discuss how you felt about these events and descriptions in the context of a modern story.
- In what ways did Granny Nurrung eventually help Jo to a deeper understanding of Aboriginal spirituality?
- How did Jo’s distrust of her White neighbours cause her to fail to understand their motives and how did this affect the outcome of the novel?
- How does Twoboy’s claims for Native Title affect his relationship with Jo? And with the other Indigenous people of Mullumbimby? Why do you think they were so reluctant to accept Twoboy into their mob and give him the information he was seeking?
- In the novel, Jo, Twoboy and Granny Nurrung are all reclaiming their ancestral land in different ways. Discuss the effectiveness of their different methods.