Bird Country by Claire Aman

A boat trip in a squall to scatter the ashes of an old man, who was not loved.

A young father, driving his daughters home across grass plains, unable to tell them that their mother has died.

A speech that doesn’t include the aching pain of trying to save a cousin’s life.

A mother hiding her fugitive son in a cockatoo cage as the river rises.

A man pouring his life into finding the perfect stained glass after his wife has left him.

A woman longing for the right person to tell about her sister’s death, while she works nightshift at a roadhouse.

These are moving and evocative stories about love and loss and yearning - and the things we don’t say.

Judges' Report

These stories are striking for their range and variety. Starting with a tale about a father, son and daughter-in-law heading to sea to scatter the ashes of the grandfather, it then puts together unlikely connections in Ash Miss, which shows the connection between a budgerigar, a mistreated boy and a crippled woman. Together the stories cover the range of human conditions with sensitivity and humour.

Claire Aman

Tony Birch is the author of Ghost River, which won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and two short story collections, Father’s Day and The Promise. Tony is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne and is a Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University.