Texts in the City: The Secret River

Texts in the City: The Secret River

In this edition of Texts in the City - the last with host Tony Wilson - writer and educator Tony Birch lends his knowledge of indigenous history to our understanding of Kate Grenville’s novel, The Secret River.

Subject matter covered in the discussion includes: the role of women in Grenville’s story and indigenous society, early settlers' hunger for land, and the centrality of conflict in the book and in fiction more generally.

Wilson and Birch also talk about the politics of the book, particularly around the time of its release, when questions were raised over the novelisation of history as well as whether non-indigenous writers should be able to write about indigenous characters.

What The Secret River offers, Birch says, is a reflection of how different cultures can get along with the aid of insight. It’s a book that urges us to consider our relationship with other peoples in contemporary society.


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 Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson is an author of more than 20 books for all ages and several genres. His picture books Hickory Dickory Dash and The Cow Tripped Over the Moon were bestseller and both were selected as National Simultaneous Storytime titles. His most recent book for adults is 1989: The Great Grand Final (Hardie Grant, 2020) 

Listen to Texts in the City: The Secret River