Voices Off, Reading On

Indy Medeiros from Brisbane's Avid Reader Bookshop is the driving force behind Voices Off Bookclub, a monthly evening book discussion entirely in Auslan. We caught up with her to find out more about it.




What made you want to start an Auslan Book Club?

A friend told me about the Sign Time! activities that Deaf Services has been organising, and I was inspired to set up a similarly social activity that would be accessible to people who use sign language. I figured that an Auslan bookclub would be a perfect way to discuss books and ideas, and to meet and learn from new people, all in a cool language.  


What is your connection to Auslan and the Deaf community?

I attended Toowong Primary School which offers a bilingual (Auslan/English) programme that I was a part of. I occasionally do teacher aid work there. 




What types of books will the Voices Off Bookclub be reading?

Voices Off will read contemporary fiction. I would like to ensure we read a range of voices from all different backgrounds, as well as encourage participants to make recommendations for future readings. For our first meeting, we will discuss Swim by Avi Duckor-Jones and on Friday 3 May we will be discussing The Wonded Sinner by Gus Henderson.


Who do you hope attends the book club?

I am really excited to meet anyone who comes! But I do hope there will be some people whose first language is Auslan so that the group (myself included) can ask questions and learn from someone with linguistic and cultural authority. 



Pictured: New Zealand author Avi Duckor-Jones with his book Swim


Do you think communicating in Auslan will lead to a different type of discussion than one from Avid’s other bookclubs?

I'm not sure if the discussions will be different, but maybe there will be more of a focus on translation since we will be reading books in English and then discussing them in another language. 


What is your favourite book?

I hate this question. I can't choose, but perhaps a book that has been really important to me is Story About Feeling by Bill Neidjie. I found it at a garage sale when I was 12 for $1, and now carry it with me whenever I travel. Sometimes books find you. 



Pictured: Western Australian author Gus Henderson with his book The Wounded Sinner


Do you think everyone should learn Auslan?

I think learning Auslan has shaped the person I am and what is important to me. It has taught me that listening is something you don't just do with your ears. That might only be my experience of Auslan, but if we try to listen to each other and our environment more deeply we could solve a lot of problems. So I won't tell people what they should or shouldn't learn, but learning Auslan has definitely been a positive thing in my life. 


Voices Off Bookclub is held regularly at Avid Reader Bookshop (193 Boundary St, West End). For more information click here

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