Tony Birch: Common People
Tony Birch appears in conversation with Chris Flynn to discuss the short-story form, writing life into fiction and the characters and questions that matter to him.
The Common People who feature in Tony Birch’s eponymous new short-story collection are precisely the kind of marginalised, ignored or forgotten characters that have preoccupied the Miles Franklin Award-shortlisted author, academic and poet throughout his impressive career to date.
A recovering alcoholic prepares for important visitors. Underpaid slaughterhouse workers make a pittance packing meat through the night. And an act of kindness cuts through an ageing child-abuse survivor’s defences.
Tony Birch is a founding member of the Melbourne School of Discontent. He has published three novels; The White Girl, Ghost River and Blood. He is also the author of Shadowboxing and three short story collections, Father’s Day, The 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.
Chris Flynn is the author of The Glass Kingdom and A Tiger in Eden, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the Age, the Australian, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, the Saturday Paper, Smith Journal, the Big Issue, Monster Children and many other publications. He has conducted interviews for the Paris Review and is a regular presenter at literary festivals across Australia. Chris lives on Phillip Island, next to a penguin sanctuary.