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Books and Ideas at Montalto

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Tony Birch

Listen to Tony Birch

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 Girlis 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.

Who?

Portrait of Tony Birch

Tony Birch

Tony Birch is a founding member of the Melbourne School of Discontent. He has published three novels; The White GirlGhost River and Blood. He is also the author of Shadowboxing and three short story collections, Father’s DayThe Promise and Common People. In 2017 he was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award for his contribution to Australian literature. In 2021 he released two new books, a poetry book, Whisper Songs and a new short story collection, Dark As Last Night.

Portrait of Michael Williams

Michael Williams

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 AgeSydney Morning HeraldAustralian and elsewhere.

Books and Ideas at Montalto

A series of thoughtful conversations about Australian literature – away from the city, at Montalto on the Mornington Peninsula.