“Connections light up across time and space”

Detectives in the Magical Realist Web of Female Relationships in Catching Teller Crow

  • Lucas Mattila Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf
  • Bettina Burger Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf
Keywords: Catching Teller Crow, The Things She’s Seen, magical realism, detective fiction, young adult, speculative fiction, postcolonial, intergenerationality, family, genre-mixing


The essay explores Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina’s Catching Teller Crow (2018), a magical realist and detective fiction narrative directed at a young adult audience. By interfacing these two generic approaches as postcolonial figurations, the text reveals the powerful potential for Young Adult literature, but also detective and magical realist fiction, to challenge and resist traditional, imperial-rooted forms of family, (neo)colonial orders and damaging power hierarchies. The novel highlights Aboriginal strength instead of Aboriginal trauma and presents the act of adopting well-meaning and actively anti-racist white Australians into Aboriginal kinship structures as an effective counter-measure to the previous policies of separating Aboriginal children from their families. In doing so, Catching Teller Crow foregrounds both intra- and intergenerational webs of female intimacy and posits them as essential to a dismantling of pre-established (colonial and patriarchal) orders without leaving behind blank spaces. Instead, family bonds and female friendship open up ways of exploring futures unfettered by oppression and trauma.