'Nic Brasch: Welcome to the Garret. The Garret podcast is a series of interviews with the best writers writing today. And Tony Birch is certainly one of the best. To me, this Melbourne-based writer’s work is reminiscent of great American writers. His novel Blood features a Steinbeck quality, but it shines a light on Australia’s working class (rather than those in the American Dust Bowl).' (Introduction)
Transcript available from website.
- Tony recognises Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird as profound influences on his writing, as well as Barry Hines’ A Kestral for a Knave.
- Tony grew up in Richmond and Collingwood, which were at the time rough working class inner city suburbs of Melbourne. He spent a great deal of time wandering the lanes around Trenerry Crescent, as well as, of course, the Yarra River itself.
- Tony’s PHD – Framing Fitzroy: Contesting and (de)constructing place and identity in a Melbourne suburb – explored the social history of Fitzroy from 1939 to 1970, and was an interrogation of the way that national, social welfare policies predominantly impacted on a working class suburb.
- Tony mentions Hannah Kent, a fellow Australian writer who researches her historical novels, as well as Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap, with whom he has a longstanding friendship and whose novel Tony has taught at university.
- Tony quotes Destiny Deacon who once said to him, ‘I just wish we could get a bit more of that other than the jailbird poetry’.
- Tony refers to Jared Thomas’ Songs that Sound Like Blood.
- Leah Purcell won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Literature in early 2017.