Author: Lazaros Zigomanis (aka Les Zig)
Publisher: Busybird Publishing (2017)
Genre: Contemporary fiction
“Luke Miggs wants more than what small-town life can offer – the grind of chores on the family farm, playing footy, and drinks with friends. Like maybe doing something about his crush on Amanda Hunt, a barmaid at the local who’s smart, funny, and ambitious. Or playing footy in the big league. At eighteen, it can’t be too late, can it?
There are the Ravens, at least, although the team’s little more than battlers… But when Adam Pride emerges from the night and tells the Ravens he wants to play for them, everything begins to change.”
Having read and enjoyed Les’ other novels for adults, I’d been wanting to read Pride for a long time and I loved it! I read it over the weekend of Melbourne’s latest lockdown and it was just what I needed. It pulled me out of reality and into the captivating world of small-town football. Luke was a likeable character, passionate and driven and his development was one of my favourite parts of the novel. However, Pride also delicately addressed the racism experienced by First Nations people, which was a tough feat for a non-Indigenous writer.
Writing about any marginalized group if you aren’t a member of that group is a big ask. I was pleased that Les sought the approval and advice of Indigenous writer Kat Clarke and that $1 from every sale of the book will be donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Both these choices and the content of the novel conveyed a deep respect for First Nations people. Luke, as well as his coach, Percy, spoke up about the racist remarks directed at Adam and their other Indigenous teammates. I felt as though Les was conscious of the responsibility of writing about a marginalized group because the minor (rather than main) characters were Indigenous. This allowed Les to make observations of the racist behaviour of some characters without speaking for First Nations people. Furthermore, there was a twist at the end of the novel, the hint of something supernatural which was handled lightly and, according to my non-Indigenous perspective, respectfully.
As an aside, another element of the novel that I appreciated was that it was accessible even to readers who (like me) didn’t have much – if any – knowledge about football. Luke observed the movement of the ball and other players during the match, but even if the positions and other terminology were unfamiliar, readers could glean the relevant information for context.
Pride was an excellent, well-paced novel. Essential for footy fans and a great read for those who know nothing about it too.
You can buy a copy of Pride from Busybird Publishing’s website. You can also buy a copy of the Young Adult version of the novel, called Song of the Curlew.
I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which I live and work, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin nation and pay my respects to their elders past and present. This is stolen land. Sovereignty was never ceded and a treaty was never signed. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.