Taking Tom Murray Home by Tim Slee

1. First lines. 2. Published 2019 by Harper Collins 3. Map of Southern Victoria. Own work. 4. Fire burning house By kolyaeg [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via pixabay
So very Australian.

Set in country Victoria, Tom Murray’s dairy farm is being repossessed by the bank. He can’t make the payments required to keep his farm. He, like many other dairy farmers, cannot compete with cheaper milk being sold in supermarkets. He vows to burn down the house so the bank can’t have it. This he does, but he dies in the fire. His wife comes up with the plan to have a funeral procession by road to Melbourne as a protest.

Dad has been telling people for weeks that if he can’t get a fair price for our cows he’s going to shoot them and then he’s going to burn the house down and take the ashes to State Parliament and tip them on the floor there, see if he won’t. And then the bank can have it.”

“‘What are you two nattering on about?’ Mum says, creeping up on us. OK, so she probably doesn’t actually creep up on us, probably she just sees us talking and walks over, but she scares the pants off me appearing like that.”

”’I seen a lot of death.’ he says, looking out over the brown grass and dry paddocks. ‘You can mourn all you like, have your funerals and your wakes, but then you get up the next day, and the day after that, and there’s still work to be done. And people like you and me, we just get on with it.’”

~Quotes from “Taking Tom Murray Home” by Tim Slee
  • Books and Publishing: “Tim Slee celebrates Australia’s rebel spirit with references to Henry Lawson and Ned Kelly, and unearths the stoicism, perseverance and humour of our rural character. Easily readable, highly entertaining and destined for the screen, this book should have broad appeal. It typifies a true Australian yarn but points to more serious problems in society, especially the issues facing those on the land.”
  • Better Reading: “Taking Tom Murray Home is a topical and beautiful portrayal of small-town Australia. It is a witty, heartbreaking and completely meaningful tale of the power of family and community. Featuring some of the most believable and completely Australian prose, Slee transports the reader right into the conversations being held. I don’t think I’ve read the words ‘freeby jayzus’ in a book before, but I can definitely picture them being said in outback Australia! With characters you’ll love and who will make you simultaneously laugh and cry, Slee weaves a bittersweet, hilarious and touching story that is sure to find its place as an Australian classic.

Awards: 2018 Winner Banjo Prize

Background note: In 2016, hundreds of people walked to Parliament House in Melbourne to protest against the supermarkets’ milk price wars which led to the lowering of milk payments to farmers by the large milk processing companies. Because of this, many farmers have been bankrupted, with farms being dispossessed by banks. For more information about the current situation: Farmer Power

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