- THE DOROTHY HEWETT AWARD
Return to Dust
By Dani Powell
When Amber returns to her home in the Australian desert a year after her brother’s death, her hope is to move on from her grief, to start again. Invited to do some work in a remote Aboriginal community, she jumps at the opportunity to return to country she loves so deeply. She begins a three-day car trip on unsealed roads that link a constellation of Aboriginal communities. From the outset, it is as if she has been picked up by a willy willy on a windless day; and must be carried to the end of it, until the wind decides to drop.
Told like memoir, spun like myth, this is a philosophical tale about coming to terms with the death of a loved one, and finding home in people as much as place.
Praise for Return to Dust
Stranded between landscape and metaphor, searching for traction in the rituals of the western desert, a woman excavates memory and the archaeological evidence of an ancient catastrophe to come to terms with the death of her brother. Return to Dust is a haunting and poetic meditation on grief and the omnipresence of death in life.
Return to Dust is a wise meditation on memory, grieving, time and place, the allure of landscape, belonging and displacement, and much more. It is graced with reflection, lyricism and depth of feeling, interwoven with a loving, respectful and honest depiction of friendship and engagement with Western Desert indigenous life. Powell seeks to connect across cultures, tracing the parallels, whilst honouring the differences as personified in one individual’s quest for reconciliation with the fragilities of life and death.