In some way or another, the characters who populate Common People – a collection of short stories from Miles Franklin–shortlisted author Tony Birch – have all missed out on ‘the Australian dream’. Set in gritty urban landscapes and battling regional communities, these tales tell of those caught in a netherworld of dead-end jobs, low pay and petty crime – but with empathy and humour. Wheeler Centre Director Michael Williams joins Tony to chat about a collection The Australian says “proves [Birch] a master of the short story”.

Tony Birch (Australian)

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Tony Birch is the author of five books: Shadowboxing (2006), Father's Day (2009), Blood (2011), The Promise (2014) and Ghost River (2015). His new book, Common People will be released in August, 2017. He is current the Bruce McGuinness Research Fellow at Victoria University. He is the fourth Indigenous Writer in Residence at South Coast Writers Centre, 2017.

Michael Williams (Australian)

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Michael Williams is the director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. For 2015-2016 he hosted Blueprint for Living on RN, and he remains a regular guest on ABC radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for publications including The Guardian Australia, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.