COMMENDED FOR THE 2011 KATE CHALLIS RAKA AWARD
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2006 QUEENSLAND PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARDS AUSTRALIAN SHORT STORY COLLECTION
Shadowboxing is a collection of ten linked stories in the life of a boy growing up in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy in the 1960s. A beautifully rendered time capsule, it captures a period of decay, turmoil, and change through innocent, unblinking eyes.
Michael's family, led by his long-suffering mother, live as though under siege, surviving his father's drinking and rage as well as the forces of `urban renewal'. Their neighbourhood is a world of simple pleasures as well as random brutality; of family life and love as well as violence and tragedy. As Michael experiences all this with a combination of wonder and fear, he matures into a sensitive adult who can forgive but never forget.
Shadowboxing is a riveting story of loss and permanence, power and weakness, stoicism and resistance.
PRAISE FOR TONY BIRCH
`Stunning series of linked stories about growing up in '60s Fitzroy.' The Age
`There's a Hemingwayesque minimalism about this writing, but in Hemingway the pathos was reined in more. In the 10 linked stories in Shadowboxing, the pathos is often barely contained and the effect is quite shattering ... Birch's descriptions of the lower socio-economic world of inner Melbourne in the `60s are brilliant and he evokes, with a curious nostalgia, a claustrophobic world that anyone would be lucky to escape from unscathed. He has a great ability to pare down his prose, laying bare the raw flesh of the matter in the process. Despite their rigours, the stories are engaging, with flashes of larrikin humour. The book is even something of a page-turner at times, although the calamity of one page often leads only to heartbreak on the next.' The Australian