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 Ghost River, which won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and three short story collections – Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People.
Tony is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio, and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne and is a Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University.
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.