AustLit logo
NLA image of person
Christopher Koch Christopher Koch i(A29553 works by) (a.k.a. Christopher John Koch; C. J. Koch; C. Koch; Christopher J. Koch)
Born: Established: 16 Jul 1932 Hobart, Southeast Tasmania, Tasmania, ; Died: Ceased: 23 Sep 2013 Hobart, Southeast Tasmania, Tasmania,
Gender: Male
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


Descended from German, English and Irish immigrants who arrived in Australia in the 1830s and 1840s, Christopher Koch was born in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1932 and educated at Clemes College, St Virgil's College, Hobart High School and the University of Tasmania. After graduating, Koch joined the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a cadet journalist. Since then he has had a variety of occupations and has lived and worked in Europe, America and Asia. He was a producer for the ABC, with responsibility for radio broadcasts for schools, for ten years. In 1972/3, he resigned to take up full-time writing.

Koch's first published works were poems that appeared in the Bulletin and Southerly during the 1950s and were described by the editors of The Penguin Book of Australian Verse (1958) as 'powerfully evocative of the Tasmanian landscape.' It was seen as a 'sign of hope' that Tasmania should produce 'two young poets [Koch and Vivian Smith] of such promise simultaneously.' However, it was to the novel that Koch turned, and The Boys in the Island, begun while he was still an undergraduate, was published in 1958. Tasmania, its landscape and history, and the concept of a Tasmanian consciousness are important elements in his early work as well as in The Doubleman (1985) and in his book of essays, Crossing the Gap (1987). In his essay 'A Tasmanian Tone', Koch speaks of a 'unique' vision of 'Island people ... a little different from those belonging to a continent.'

Koch's recurring preoccupations are the themes of spirituality and cultural identity: his second novel Over the Sea Wall, set in India, and the later novels, set in Indonesia, Vietnam and Ireland, pick up the themes of Australians' engagement with Asia and the 'challenge of ... absorbing the new hemisphere... while retaining their European heritage' (Oxford Companion to Australian Literature).

In 1995, Christopher Koch was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for his contribution to literature. Among his other awards are a Doctorate of Letters from the University of Tasmania, an Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (Estonia), and the Writers' Emeritus Award from the Australia Council.

His works have won and been shortlisted for numerous Australian and international awards, including multiple Miles Franklin Awards.


Most Referenced Works

Personal Awards

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Lost Voices Sydney : Fourth Estate , 2012 Z1889835 2012 single work novel 'Young Hugh Dixon believes he can save his father from ruin if he asks his estranged great-uncle Walter -- a wealthy lawyer who lives alone in a Tasmanian farmhouse passed down through the family -- for help. As he is drawn into Walter′s rarefied world, Hugh discovers that both his uncle and the farmhouse are links to a notorious episode in the mid nineteenth century.

'Walter′s father, Martin, was living in the house when it was raided by members of an outlaw community run by Lucas Wilson, a charismatic ex-soldier attempting to build a utopia. But like later societies with communitarian ideals, Nowhere Valley was controlled by the gun, with Wilson as benevolent dictator. Twenty-year-old Martin′s sojourn in the Valley as Wilson′s disciple has become an obsession with Walter Dixon: one which haunts his present and keeps the past tantalizingly close.

'As Walter encourages Hugh′s ambition to become an artist, and again comes to his aid when one of Hugh′s friends is charged with murder, the way life′s patterns repeat themselves from one generation to another becomes eerily apparent.

'Dramatic, insightful and evocative, Lost Voices is an intriguing double narrative that confirms Koch as one of our most significant and compelling novelists.' (From the publisher's website.)
shortlisted Deloitte Fiction Book Award
2013 shortlisted Queensland Literary Awards Fiction Book Award
2014 longlisted International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
2013 shortlisted Prime Minister's Literary Awards Fiction Fiction
2013 shortlisted ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
2013 shortlisted Indie Awards Fiction
y separately published work icon The Memory Room Milsons Point : Vintage Australia , 2007 Z1438763 2007 single work novel (taught in 1 units) Vincent Austin thinks his devotion to secrecy for its own sake makes him a born spy. His childhood friend Erika Lange shares his fascination with the covert. Having graduated University Vincent is recruited by ASIS - Australia's overseas secret intelligence service. Erika eventually joins Foreign Affairs as a press officer. As the Cold War reaches its final peak, the fantasies of youth have become reality for Vincent and Erika, but they lead to a tragic climax. It is left to Vincent's university friend Bradley, who inherits Vincent's diaries, to contemplate their story. - from Back cover.
2008 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Literary Fiction Book of the Year
2008 winner Mark and Evette Moran Nib Award for Literature
2009 longlisted International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
2008 shortlisted Australian Booksellers Association Awards Booksellers Choice Award
2008 longlisted Miles Franklin Literary Award
y separately published work icon Out of Ireland Sydney : Doubleday , 1999 Z513277 1999 single work novel

'A leader of the Young Ireland rebellion of 1848, Robert Devereaux is an Irish gentleman who is prepared to hazard a life of privilege in the fight for his country's freedom. transported to Van Diemen's land as a political prisoner, he enters a life that greatly changes him, falling in love with a young Irish convict woman. Through Kathleen O'Rahilly he comes to know the people he's long romanticised; but his cause, and the life he has lost, will not let him go.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (HarperCollins 2013 ed.)

1999 winner Colin Roderick Award
2000 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Prize for Fiction
1999 shortlisted Australian Booksellers Association Awards Booksellers Choice Award

Known archival holdings

National Library of Australia (ACT)
Albinski 119
Last amended 14 Nov 2017 10:16:43
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: