Home » Australia » David Ireland » Burn

David Ireland: Burn

Gunner McAllister is an Australian aborigine, living in a shanty town by the river. They – the white people – want to clear Gunner, his family and friends out, apparently to lay pipelines (though, as it turns out, the real reason is to build a caravan park). They are subject to racial abuse and attacks from the local whites. The plot centres around their final day in the shanty town. Gunner’s two sons return – one from Sydney, the other from a walkabout. Gunner reminisces – mainly about his role in the war, which, even though he was still subject to racial discrimination, gave him at least a role in life. Gunner, his father, his wife, his sons, his friends and neighbours, the local, reasonably friendly white policeman and the neighbouring whites all form part of the backdrop, as Gunner accepts that there will be no racial justice, that his one precious possession – the rifle he managed to hold onto after the end of the war – is likely to be taken from him and that he will just have to pack up and move on.

Publishing history

First published 1974 by Angus and Robertson