Christopher Koch

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For the film and television director, see Chris Koch.
Christopher Koch
AO
Born Christopher John Koch
(1932-07-16)16 July 1932
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Died 23 September 2013(2013-09-23) (aged 81)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Occupation Novelist
Language English
Nationality Australian
Education St Virgil's College
Alma mater University of Tasmania
Notable work(s) The Year of Living Dangerously
Notable award(s) Miles Franklin Award (1985, 1996)
Spouse(s) Irene Vilnois (m. 1959–79)
Robin Whyte-Butler
Children Gareth Koch

Christopher John Koch AO (16 July 1932 – 23 September 2013) was an Australian novelist, best known for his 1978 novel The Year of Living Dangerously, which was adapted into an award-winning film. He twice won the Miles Franklin Award (for the The Doubleman in 1985, and Highways to a War in 1996). In 1995 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for contribution to Australian literature.

Biography[edit]

Koch was born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1932. He was educated at Clemes College, St Virgil's College, Hobart High School and the University of Tasmania.[1] After graduating, he joined the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) as a cadet journalist. He left Hobart to travel in south Asia and Europe, and ended up in London where he worked for several years until he returned to Australia to avoid national service in the British Army.[2] While working in London as a waiter and a teacher, Koch began working on his first novel, The Boys in the Island, which he left with his agent when he returned to Australia.[3]

Koch's first published works were several poems published in The Bulletin and the literary journal Southerly.[1] While back at the ABC as a radio producer, The Boys in the Island was published in the UK, with the positive reviews encouraging Koch to eventually take up writing full-time in 1972.[4] In the early 1960s, Koch was awarded a writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he taught literature and was associated with Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).[3]

His novel The Year of Living Dangerously, set in Jakarta during the fall of the Sukarno regime, was made into a film directed by Peter Weir and starring Sigourney Weaver, Mel Gibson and Linda Hunt. The book was loosely inspired by his brother's (Philip Koch) experience as an Australian journalist in Indonesia during that period.

Koch died at his home in Hobart on 23 September 2013, aged 81. He had been diagnosed with cancer twelve months earlier.[2][5]

Personal life[edit]

Koch married his first wife, Irene Vilnois, in 1959. Their son, Gareth Koch (born 1962), is a classical guitarist. His married his second wife, Robin Whyte-Butler, in the late 1990s, and she lived with him in Sydney and Tasmania,[3][6] and was with him when he died in 2013.[2]

Awards[edit]

Miles Franklin Award The Doubleman, winner 1985
Highways to a War, winner 1996
The Memory Room, longlisted 2008
The Age Book of the Year Award The Year of Living Dangerously, 1978 Imaginative Writing Prize winner; 1978 Book of the Year, joint winner
National Book Council Award for Australian Literature The Year of Living Dangerously, 1979
Colin Roderick Award Out of Ireland, 1999
Victorian Premier's Literary Award Out of Ireland, 2000

Books[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Noel Henricksen, Island and Otherland: Christopher Koch and his books (Educare, 2003).

References[edit]

External links[edit]