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Archie Weller was born on 13 July 1957 in Cranbrook, Western Australia.  He went to the exclusive Guildford Grammar school in Perth.  He is tertiary educated.

Weller has written short stories, fiction and plays.  His first novel, The Day of the Dog (1981) was written in six weeks after he was released from Broome gaol.  It is a novel that recounts a period in a young urban Aboriginal youth's life, Doug Dooligan, after he (like the author) is released from gaol.  Written in a social realist style, the novel depicts violence and brutality where the choices Dooligan makes see him caught in a cycle of destruction involving delinquency, police harassment, urban poverty, and oppression.  The Day of the Dog also represents how Aboriginal relationships are subject to police abuse and authoritarianism.  However, there is also humour present, alongside moments of romance between Dooligan and his girlfriend.  The novel has since been made into a feature film, Blackfellas.

Weller's second novel, Land of the Golden Clouds (1997) departs from the social realism of The Day of the Dog and is an epic fantasy narrative, written in the magic realist mode.  This novel has an intricate plot and a huge cast of characters.  Set in Australia 3000 years into the future after a global nuclear holocaust, it is broadly about warring tribes and their heroes' journey through the new world.  The utopian Epilogue conveys Weller's views on the politics of reconciliation.

There is little critical work on Weller, possibly because his work is relatively recent and also possibly as a result of the controversy in 1997 over his Aboriginality.  It was revealed in the media that neither his parents nor his siblings identify as Aboriginal.  Weller argues in his defence that his paternal great-grandmother is Aboriginal, though he cannot prove it.  He also maintains that he has lived an Aboriginal life.  Like Mudrooroo, he positions himself socially and politically as Aboriginal, even though he cannot establish Aboriginal ancestry.  This is not to be confused with authors who deliberately set out to deceive by adopting false Aboriginal pen names, even though they know they have no Aboriginal ancestry.  For example, Leon Carmen wrote as an Aboriginal woman, Wanda Koolmatrie, though he was well aware that he had no claim on female Aboriginal experience. 



Simon and Delyse Ryan ACU National