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Tony Birch

Tony Birch

Tony Birch is the author of three novels and five short story collections. His most recent books are the novel, The White Girl (2019), the poetry collection, Whisper Songs (2021), and the short story collection, Dark as Last Night (2021). He was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award in 2017. He is also an activist, historian, and essayist.

Tony Birch reviews 'The Way It Is Now' by Garry Disher

December 2021, no. 438 23 November 2021
A year before his death in 2015 following a cancer diagnosis, the writer–playwright Henning Mankell responded to a question about his love of the crime genre. He stated that his objective was ‘to use the mirror of crime to look at contradictions in society’. Mankell’s mirror was evident in his Kurt Wallander series (1991–2009), in which the detective was faced with contradictions not onl ... (read more)

Tony Birch reviews 'Consolation' by Garry Disher

January–February 2021, no. 428 16 December 2020
There are at least two types of ‘snowdroppers’ in the world. I grew up around economic snowdroppers, working-class women who stole laundry from clothing lines in more affluent suburbs and sold the contraband, mostly linen and women’s clothing, to pawnshops across inner Melbourne. The snowdropper introduced early in Garry Disher’s new crime novel, Consolation, is of another variety. He stea ... (read more)

Tony Birch reviews 'The History Wars' by Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark, and 'Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle’s fabrication of Aboriginal history' edited by Robert Manne

October 2003, no. 255 01 October 2003
Towards the end of his informative introduction, Robert Manne, the editor of Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle’s fabrication of Aboriginal history, outlines the collective intention of the book’s nineteen contributors. He refers to Windschuttle’s The Fabrication of Aboriginal History (2002), a revisionist text dealing with early colonial history and violence in nineteenth-century Tasmania, as ... (read more)

Tony Birch on 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' by Thomas Keneally for Reading Australia

June-July 2015, no. 372 27 May 2015
Thomas Keneally’s novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) is based in part on historical events, particularly the crimes committed by Jimmy Governor, an Aboriginal man from New South Wales. In 1900, Governor was a key figure involved in the killing of nine Europeans, including five women and children. The killings followed Governor’s marriage to a young white woman and taunts from the Mawb ... (read more)

Tony Birch reviews 'The Glass Kingdom' by Chris Flynn

June–July 2014, no. 362 26 May 2014
With his first novel, Tiger in Eden (2012), Chris Flynn displayed an acute ear for the vernacular that was occasionally profane and equally poetic. This quality continues in his new novel, The Glass Kingdom, particularly through the central characters, Ben and Mikey. Both men are misfits of the first order. Ben, the older of the pair, runs a sideshow alley game, Target Ball, for a motley travellin ... (read more)

Tony Birch reviews 'Mullumbimby' by Melissa Lucashenko

May 2013, no. 351 28 April 2013
Mullumbimby is a humorous, heartfelt, occasionally abrasive and brave work by a writer with an acute ear for language, an eye for subtle beauty, and a nose honed to sniff bullshit at a thousand paces. A sculptural work, produced by the author and photographed for the cover of the novel, is a bird’s nest, crafted from twigs, various grasses, and earth. It conveys a sense of sanctuary and genuine ... (read more)