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.
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.
Tony Wilson is an author of twelve books, as well as writing columns and features for the Age, Good Weekend and The Monthly. He was part of the Breakfasters on Triple R for six years, and is still a regular visitor to both Triple R and 774 ABC Melbourne.