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A powerful memoir of a true Australian legend: stolen child, musical and lyrical genius, and leader.

Not many have lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was.

Roach was only two years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of.

In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Archie’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Archie voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.

Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit – and of a great love story.

Winner of the 2020 Indie Book of the Year Non-Fiction
Shortlisted for the 2020 ABIA Biography Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Non-Fiction
Shortlisted for the Booksellers' Choice 2020 Book of the Year Awards, Non-Fiction 
Archie Roach is the 2020 VIC Australian of the Year

'Tell Me Why is an extraordinary odyssey and offering. Archie has come through snares, pits and suffering to bring us an inspiring tale of survival, grace and generosity. This book should be in every school.' Paul Kelly

‘Just like his early songs, Tell Me Why was written with empathy as its impetus and that intent shines through on every page. This is a phenomenal work by one of the most articulate and recognisable members of the Stolen Generations. It will be read, studied and discussed for many years to come.’ The Australian

‘Beautiful, gut-wrenching and compelling memoir’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘Archie’s deeply resonant voice sings out – of a broken country and a life renewed. The voice of Australia.’ Daniel Browning, ABC journalist and producer

‘Roach is honest and humble in his oft-heartbreaking retelling of his search for identity, belonging and purpose’ Courier Mail

‘Best book of 2019: Tell Me Why by Archie Roach, a beautifully written autobiography that captures one of the most remarkable lives in Australian music’ Weekend Australian

Photograph © Adrian Cook Photography

Archie Roach AM, a Gunditjmara and Bundjalung man, was born in Victoria in 1956. Taken at the age of two from parents he never saw again, he was placed into foster care. He started writing songs after meeting his soulmate Ruby Hunter when they were both homeless teenagers. His heartbreaking signature song, ‘Took the Children Away’, from his 1990 ARIA award-winning debut album Charcoal Lane, has become an anthem for the Stolen Generations. The song was the first to win an Australian Human Rights Award and the album was featured in US Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 50 in 1992, won two ARIA awards and went gold in Australia. Archie’s recording history includes twelve albums, soundtracks, film and theatrical scores and his books include the award-winning memoir Tell Me Why, accompanied by a companion album, and the picture book Took the Children Away, illustrated by Ruby Hunter.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia (August 5, 2020)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781760854539

‘Archie’s deeply resonant voice sings out – of a broken country and a life renewed. The voice of Australia.’

– Daniel Browning, ABC journalist and producer

‘Just like his early songs, Tell Me Why was written with empathy as its impetus and that intent shines through on every page. This is a phenomenal work by one of the most articulate and recognisable members of the Stolen Generations. It will be read, studied and discussed for many years to come.’

– The Australian

‘Beautiful, gut-wrenching and compelling memoir’

– Sydney Morning Herald

‘Roach is honest and humble in his oft-heartbreaking retelling of his search for identity, belonging and purpose’ 

– Courier Mail

‘Best book of 2019: Tell Me Why by Archie Roach, a beautifully written autobiography that captures one of the most remarkable lives in Australian music’

– Weekend Australian

'Tell Me Why is an extraordinary odyssey and offering. Archie has come through snares, pits and suffering to bring us an inspiring tale of survival, grace and generosity. This book should be in every school.' 

– Paul Kelly