• arts & culture

9 September 2016

Tony Birch has won the 2016 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Indigenous Writing for his novel Ghost River.

Tony Birch

Tony Birch

Announced last night at The Wheeler Centre, the Award is a biennial prize designed to reward and promote books in all literary categories written by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander authors. The judges were Daniel Browning, Hannah Donnelly and Kelly Briggs.

Birch will take home $25,000 for his book, a coming-of-age story that is firmly anchored in Melbourne. Ghost River centres on two unlikely young friends, Ren and Sonny, who find freedom and adventure along the winding banks of the Yarra River.

Birch's novel, which is published by University of Queensland Press, was chosen from a shortlist of three books from a total of 37 entries. The shortlist included AliCobby Eckermann's Inside My Mother and Ellen van Neerven's Heat and Light.

Previous winners include Melissa Lucashenko in 2014 for Mullumbimby (University of Queensland Press), and Anita Heiss in 2012 for Am I Black Enough For You? (Random House).

The Award for Indigenous Writing is part of the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, which are administered by the Wheeler Centre on behalf of the Victorian Government.

Read Tony Birch's article 'Writing Ghost River' in Meanjin