Posted by: Lisa Hill | September 23, 2013

Vale Christopher Koch (1932-2013)

I am sorry to have to pass on news of the death of Christopher Koch (OA).  He was one of my favourite authors, and a giant of Australian literature.

Born in Hobart, Koch began his career as an ABC journalist and wrote his first novel, The Boys in the Island, in 1958.  This was followed by Across the Sea Wall in 1965, and then in 1978 by The Year of Living Dangerously, which won the Age Book of the Year Award and was made into an unforgettable film starring Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson.  The Doubleman, (on my TBR) won the Miles Franklin award in 1985, after which he published essays in a collection entitled Crossing the Gap (1993).

The haunting, unforgettable Highways to a War was published in 1995, giving Koch his second Miles Franklin win, and was followed in 1999 by Out of Ireland which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and the Colin Roderick Award.  

There was then quite a wait for his next novel, but it was worth it.  Long-listed for the Miles Franklin, The Memory Room was published in 2007 (see my review) and it is sad to realise that Lost Voices (2012) which I reviewed just this year  is the last of this great author’s oeuvre.

What I loved about Koch’s writing was his great sense of place, and his skill at weaving thought-provoking themes into fascinating narratives.  He was, above all else, a storyteller.  It is a measure of how great a storyteller he was that nearly all these books are still in print.

He will be sadly missed.


  1. never read him where would on start Lisa ,all the best stu


    • Hi Stu, I think you’d love The Year of Living Dangerously. It’s set in Indonesia during the coup.


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