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Mudrooroo 1938- (Colin Thomas Johnson, Mudrooroo Narogin, Mudrooroo Nyoongah)

Mudrooroo 1938- (Colin Thomas Johnson, Mudrooroo Narogin, Mudrooroo Nyoongah)

PERSONAL:

Born Colin Thomas Johnson, August 21, 1938, in East Cuballing, Western Australia, Australia; son of Thomas Creighton Patrick Johnson and Elizabeth Johnson; married, wife's name Sangita; children: Saman. Education: Murdoch University; Melbourne University, B.A. (honors), 1987.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Janine Little, 393 Bulner St., West Perth 6005, Australia.

CAREER:

Educator and writer. University of Northern Terriority, Darwin, lecturer, 1987; University of Queensland, Brisbane, lecturer, 1988; Aboriginal Studies, Murdoch University, Perth, chair, 1991—; cofounder, Aboriginal Oral Literature and Dramatists Association.

MEMBER:

Australian Society of Authors, Aboriginal Oral Literature, and Dramatists Association.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Western Australia Premier's prize for poetry and most outstanding entry, 1992.

WRITINGS:

POETRY

The Song Circle of Jackie, Hyland House (Melbourne, Australia), 1986.

Dalwurra, University of Western Australia Press (Nedlands, Australia), 1988.

The Garden of Gethsemane, Hyland House (Melbourne, Australia), 1991.

Pacific Highway Boo-Blooz: Country Poems, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1996.

PLAYS

The Mudrooroo/Mueller Project, New South Wales University Press (Sydney, Australia), 1993.

NOVELS

(As Colin Johnson) Wildcat Falling, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1965, reprinted, Harper Collins (New York, NY), 2005.

(As Colin Johnson) Long Live Sandaware, Hyland House (Melbourne, Australia),1979.

Dr. Wooreddy's Prescription for Enduring the Ending of the World, Hyland House (Melbourne, Australia), 1983.

Master of the Ghost Dreaming, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1991.

Wildcat Screaming, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1992.

The Kwinkan, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1993.

The Undying, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1998.

Underground, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

The Promised Land, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

Also author of Doin Wildcat, Hyland House (Melbourne Australia).

OTHER

Writing from the Fringe: A Study of Modern Aboriginal Literature, Hyland House (Melbourne, Australia), 1990.

Aboriginal Mythology, Aquarian/HarperCollins (London, England), 1994.

Us Mob: History, Culture, Struggle: An Introduction to Indigenous Australia, Angus & Robertson (New York, NY), 1995.

Indigenous Literature of Australia = milli milli wangka, Highland House (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mudrooroo is an Australian writer whose claim of aboriginal descent has engendered debate. Commenting on the author's identity issues, Australian Literary Studies contributor Maureen Clark noted: "Mudrooroo has responded to change in ways that have had the potential to influence perceptions of who he is and where he belongs. He has, for example, adopted a number of different names that reflect and support his claim to Indigenous belonging."

Mudrooroo is the author of poetry, novels, and works of nonfiction. He first gained notoriety with his initial novel Wildcat Falling, which was written under his birth name, Colin Johnson. First published in Australia in 1965 and reprinted in the United States in 1992 and again in 2005, the novel follows an unnamed nineteen-year-old black man who decides to do battle with the white society around him. A product of prisons and orphanages, the protagonist seems only to really enjoy American jazz music. After shooting a policeman, the young man hides in the Australian Bush, where he begins to connect with his Aboriginal roots. "This remarkably self-aware first novel ends, despite everything, on a hopeful note," wrote Suzanne Ruta in the New York Times Book Review.

Wildcat Screaming was published more than twenty-five years after Wildcat Falling and features the character "Wildcat" who has been captured and is in prison for shooting a policeman. While in jail, Wildcat befriends an aboriginal policeman and is taught meditation by a man named Singh, who is also involved in a pyramid scheme to make money. "All this adds up to a clever satire of financial wheeling and dealing in a region known as the Australian Texas," Ruta commented in the New York Times Book Review.

In Master of the Ghost Dreaming, Mudrooroo tells the story of Jangamuttuk, an old Aborigine shaman who, along with his people, has been relocated to an island off of Australia. It is through Jangamuttuk that the Aborigines learn to deal with the invaders and, at the same time, create a vision for a new life. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote of the novel: "Alluring and enchanting, the volume will capture readers from its first page."

Mudrooroo's 1993 novel The Kwinkan is in the form of interviews conducted by a scholar studying the career of the Aboriginal police detective Dr. Watson Holmes Jackamara. In the course of the novel, the scholar becomes involved in politics and is exiled to an island where he meets two beautiful businesswomen who are caught up in a huge international business scheme and possibly involved in murder. The novel's title refers to an Aboriginal legend in which a witch possesses people and turns them into shadows of their former selves. "Mudrooroo is as prolific as he is talented," wrote Donna Seaman in a review of The Kwinkan in Booklist. Nigel Rugby, writing in World Literature Today, called the novel "an excellent satire of political corruption and neoimperialism in Australia and the Pacific."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Australian Literary Studies, October, 2004, Terry Goldie, "On Not Being Australian: Mudrooroo and Demidenko," p. 89; October, 2004, Maureen Clark, "Mudrooroo: Crafty Impostor or Rebel with a Cause?," p. 101.

Booklist, February 1, 1994, Donna Seaman, reviews of Wildcat Falling, Wildcat Screaming, and The Kwinkan, p. 995.

Journal of Australian Studies, December, 2001, Greg Hughes, review of Wildcat Falling, p. 118.

Print Week, July 28, 2005, "Post Script: Profile—Colin Johnson" (interview with author), p. 71.

Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1993, review of Master of the Ghost Dreaming, p. 82; January 17, 1994, review of The Kwinkan, p. 422.

World Literature Today, summer, 1994, Nigel Rigby, review of The Kwinkan, p. 632.

ONLINE

Mudrooroo Home Page,http://www.mudrooroo.com/ (June 5, 2007).

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