Books and Ideas at Montalto
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Tony Birch is among Australia’s finest living writers. A poet, activist and academic, as well as an acclaimed novelist and short-story writer, Birch’s writing is concerned with Australians, especially Indigenous Australians, living life on the fringes. He writes, too, about the dark shadow cast by the state in the everyday lives of marginalised people.
In 2017, he became the first Aboriginal writer to win the Patrick White Award, in recognition of his invaluable body of work, including the novels Blood and Ghost River and the short-story collections, Common People and The Promise. His new book, The White Girl, is about the Stolen Generations, set in 1960s rural Australia. It’s the story of Odette, and her fair-skinned granddaughter, who she must protect from authorities at all costs.
At Montalto, he joins Michael Williams for a conversation about writing, research and the politics of prejudice – then and now.
Tony Birch is the author of three novels: the bestselling The White Girl, winner of the 2020 NSW Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing, and shortlisted for the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Prize; Ghost River, winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2012. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and three short story collections – Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People.
In 2017 Tony was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award. In 2021 he will release two new books, a poetry collection, Whisper Songs, and a new short story collection, Dark as Last Night. Tony Birch is also an activist, historian and essayist.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.