Tony Birch wins The Age's Fiction Book of the Year Award

Tony Birch
Author and academic Professor Tony Birch has won The Age's 2024 Fiction Book of the Year Award.

Acclaimed author and educator Professor Tony Birch has been awarded The Age 2024 Fiction Book of the Year, for his new novel exploring the impact of domestic violence and the enduring power of family.

Presented at the Melbourne Writers Festival opening at Melbourne Town Hall last night, the award recognises the outstanding literary achievement of Birch's new novel Women & Children, and his contribution to Australian literature.

The judges found Birch had imbued his characters ‘with great humanity and a dignity that belies the difficulties of their lives’ and that Women & Children was 'a book that will live with you'.

Set in mid-1960s Melbourne, Women & Children follows the life of Joe Cluny, an 11-year-old boy who lives with his mum, Marion and sister, Ruby. The novel explores the impact of domestic violence and the enduring power of family.

In congratulating Tony on his achievement, Faculty of Arts Interim Dean Professor Lesley Stirling said: 'Tony is one of Australia’s most powerful storytellers. He writes about his characters with great warmth and compassion and portrays their interactions in a highly authentic way. This prize is a well-deserved achievement and we congratulate him most sincerely.

'As Tony has said, his book, Women & Children, is of particular relevance currently as the discussion about violence against women and within families is at the forefront of our minds.'

Tony is an acclaimed local First Nations author of novels including The White Girl and Ghost River, books of poetry and short story collections. Birch is also the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.

'Tony has made valuable contributions to the University and wider community through his championing of local and First Nations writers and his promotion of Australian writing, particularly to younger people.' Professor Stirling said.

Birch’s fiction has previously won the New South Wales Premier's Award Christina Stead Prize for fiction, the Queensland Literary Award Steele Rudd prize and was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's literary prize. Birch has previously been awarded the Patrick White Literary Award for his contribution to Australian literature.

Birch received a prize of $10,000, courtesy of the Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund.