Publisher's synopsis

When May’s mother dies suddenly, she and her brother Billy are taken in by Aunty. However, their loss leaves them both searching for their place in a world that doesn’t seem to want them. While Billy takes his own destructive path, May sets off to find her father and her Aboriginal identity. Her journey leads her from the Australian east coast to the far north, but it is the people she meets, not the destinations, that teach her what it is to belong.

In this startling debut, Tara June Winch uses a fresh voice and unforgettable imagery to share her vision of growing up on society’s fringes. Swallow the Air is the story of living in a torn world and finding the thread to help sew it back together.


  • Winner 2004 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, David Unaipon Award for unpublished indigenous writers
  • Winner 2006 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for indigenous writing
  • Winner 2007 Dobbie Award
  • Winner 2007 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, UTS Award for New Writing
  • Winner 2007 The Sydney Morning Herald, Best Young Australian Novelist Award
  • Winner 2008 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative
  • Runner Up 2003 State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award and Maureen Donahoe Encouragement Award
  • Shortlisted 2007 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards
  • Shortlisted 2007 The Age Book of the Year

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