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Common People

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  231 ratings  ·  31 reviews
From the award-winning author of Ghost River. In this unforgettable new collection, Tony Birch introduces a cast of characters from all walks of life. These remarkable and surprising stories capture common people caught up in the everyday business of living and the struggle to survive. From two single mothers on the most unlikely night shift to a homeless man unexpectedly ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published November 1st 2017 by University of Queensland Press (first published July 26th 2017)
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  231 ratings  ·  31 reviews


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Denise
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a fine writer Tony Birch is - this is such a great collection of stories
Anna Baillie-Karas
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Compassionate, understated, these stories are slices of life in Australia, giving us characters on the fringe of society, people you might overlook on a bus, at school, in a hospital waiting room. Tony Birch writes cleanly and maintains suspense and sometimes a sense of menace, but there is optimism throughout. It’s realist so expect some swearing and tough moments, but told with empathy.
Rachael (shereadsshenoms)
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great collection of short stories exploring the lives of common people throughout Australia across different time periods. Some stories stronger than others, but some beautiful lines scattered and poignant moments throughout. Shamefully this was my first Tony Birch read and I'll be certainly heading to his backlist now.
felix
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. Really like his other work; this falls short on all fronts. A very weak collection in general. The stories are too simplistic, and end in the kind of way that indicates a profound truth, but is not achieved at all - certainly not like Birch's other works. The stories are truthful, broad and, most promisingly, about common people - the everyman - but I felt were too basic and explored only the surface level.
Maha Abed
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some engaging, matter-of-fact short stories, filled with endearing and moving moments. A few made me laugh, others made me consider situations in Australia on an even deeper level.
Janine De paiva
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!! I don’t normally like short stories but these were so well written. Beautiful images created. And I particularly loved the Indigenous stories.
Tundra
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars. A collection of short stories that reflect on disenfranchisement in the forms of race, socio-economic status, addiction, ageing, mental health issues and unemployment. Birch examines the causes and effects on ‘common’ people.
Blair
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Something of a disappointment. Some of the stories work well but a number of them felt very clunky and not up to Tony's usual high standards.
John
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This collection of unrelated short stories sheds light on the harsh world of Australian aborigines. Every story feels real. All the events that happen in the stories feel real.

The stories tell about Aboriginal people living in poor economic and social conditions and what they do. There are no explicit value judgements made about the characters in the stories. The hardships that they endure are not focused upon. Quite the opposite. They are accepted because this is how it is for these people. The
...more
Lisa
This collection of 15 short stories by Tony Birch brings us stories of the everyday as it is lived by marginalised people. The title is ironic, because although it implies that these people are all around, often unseen, they are nonetheless remarkable.
The first story, ‘Ghost Train’ is confronting. Two single mothers, Marian and Lydia, drive to a remote site in the country for a cash-in-hand meat-packing job which turns out to be in an off-the-grid slaughterhouse. Marian is wearing a skimpy T-shi
...more
Jessica Foster
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian, stories
3.5 stars
Finely cut short stories from someone who's clearly mastered the craft. Each short story is immediate; sliding you in with clean writing and vivid setting. You could march through this collection in one heady sitting, but spacing them out, like chocolate, is best. Indigenous characters are featured alongside perhaps white people, that is not explicit but what is is this sense of fairly tough characters who all seem to, without question, overcome and endure. Why wouldn't you. This is Aus
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Adam Deverell
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Another highly readable collection by Tony Birch. He writes in a very simple, almost slight, minimal style that suits the everyday people in his stories.

He's at his best writing from a child's point of view. "Sissy" tells the story of an aboriginal girl who balks at a holiday with a wealthy white family, "Death Star" of a would be car thief on the verge of taking over his dead brother's legacy and "The White Girl" of an aboriginal boy's crush on an altruistic white girl - a story with an open en
...more
Carolyn Mck
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I admired Birch's Ghost River and the way he wrote about the marginalised of Melbourne. In this collection his characters are from the urban underclass and also the regional poor, including Aboriginals. They are all living on the edge of society, some scrounging a legitimate living, others involved in petty crime. My most memorable character was 'Harmless' - an elusive man who sleeps on the town park benches or retreats into the bush. But it is Harmless who gives the townspeople - and readers - ...more
Anna Davidson
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not being a fan of short stories, I was reluctant to pick this up at first, but I’m so glad I did. A collection of stunning character portraits, Tony Birch has a way of making each character’s situation seep in under your skin in just a few pages with an intense peek inside the lives of those living on the margins of society. A must read.
Claire
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great mix of short stories that I read in less than 24 hours. My favourites were "Harmless" and "Raven and Sons". I'd give the book 4.5 stars if I could but there were a few weird aspects that stopped me from giving it 5 stars...like the title of the first story "The Ghost Train" that didn't seem to match with the story at all!
Elena
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
We try to forget the truth sometimes. All of us, walking in and out of this hospital. Me as much as anyone. But the body, it never lies. It carries our scars, on the inside and outside. The body never forgets.
Nuwani Perez
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Simply, short stories..but with important msgs and lessons to remember. Loved reading something based in Melbourne context and the diversities of all the characters. Will definitely pick up another Tony Birch in the future!
Keira Edwards-Huolohan
This is a collection of snap shots of various peoples lives. Some deal with drugs, alcohol and death. Some touch on racism. Many, I wish, were a bit longer or offered a bit more closure. But I guess sometimes life doesn't hand us answers.
Amy Plant
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful Australian literature - a must read!
Jennifer Rolfe
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great selection of eclectic short stories.
Leon Lefonque
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nice stories that take into account the fragility and at times the nobility of the human spirit. Tony Birch is a good author and may be viewed as great by later generations.
Lauren Deville
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this. 4.5. Moved to tears... in public! But I don’t care. I hope people saw me sobbing and took note of the cover.
Nicola Kuispear
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There's a delightful touch in characterisation and setting in Tony's work. It's a delight to read.
Natasha Tresham
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A short but lovely collection. Tony Birch is truly a national treasure.
Wendy Bridges
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Utterly compelling collection. Brilliant storytelling. I can feel an author binge coming on.
M
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
Good: 3.85; stories about down to earth people....
Stephen Castley
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful collection of short stories. They are simple, kind and thought provoking. Often short stories don't get published. Fortunately this collection has been published for us to enjoy.
Matt
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As good a collection of short stories as I have read. My first book by Birch and I can see myself ploughing through many more. Truly wonderful.
Jodie Warner
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A quick read. Tony Birch is so good and if you haven’t read him, then you must! His writing is honest and open and unflinching. This is the good and the bad- short stories of the common people.
Maggie Roessler
Digging in the dirt, throwing the dirt at the sky. Drinking, lots of drinking, and a dose or two of harder stuff. Unsentimental pain. Anger, rise up, the wild dogs barking fury. Don't steal me away, white lady. Get off, get out, let me be, let me drink and throw dirt and don't touch me with your soap and sponges tryna bathe me in your ugly tears, get off.
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Tony Birch is the author of Shadowboxing (2006), the short story collections Father’s Day (2009) and The Promise (UQP, 2014) and the novel Blood (UQP, 2011), which was shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award. He is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne where he teaches in the School of Culture and Communication ...more
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