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Christopher Koch loses battle with cancer

La république des lettres —
Christopher Koch loses battle with cancer

TRIBUTES have flowed for acclaimed Tasmanian author Christopher Koch, who has died aged 81 in his home town of Hobart.

The dual Miles Franklin Literary Award Winner died on Sunday night following a 12-month battle with cancer.

Koch, who was raised and educated in Hobart, was best known for his book The Year of Living Dangerously, which was made into a 1982 film by Australian director Peter Weir, starring Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson.

A full-time writer since 1972, Koch twice won the Miles Franklin Award for fiction, with The Doubleman and Highways to a War.

He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1995 for his contribution to literature.

His final novel, Lost Voices, drew heavily on his memories of growing up in Hobart, with evocative descriptions of New Town, Moonah and Glenorchy in the first half of the 20th century.

After living in London in his youth and for many years in Sydney, Koch returned to live in Tasmania in the 1970s and 1990s and eventually settled at Richmond.

The Australian reports that his wife Robin was with him when he died.

Harper Collins publishing director Shona Martyn said Koch was a great novelist who had made a major contribution to Australian literature and the portrayal of Australians.

"It was a privilege to publish him and to know him," she said. "He was a man with an exceptional commitment to his writing. Even during his illness he was in constant contact with his editor, discussing the finer points of layout and punctuation for an extensive re-release of his impressive backlist."

Ms Martyn said the most special aspect of Koch's work was his ability to capture his home state of Tasmania.

"Its landscape, its history and its people in novels such his final book Lost Voices (2012) and 1999's Out of Ireland."

Premier and Arts Minister Lara Giddings said the literary world had lost a true craftsman.

"He will long be remembered as not just a brilliant Tasmanian writer but indeed a great Australian author who has undoubtedly inspired and influenced others." she said

Margaret Connolly, Koch's agent for almost 20 years, said she was saddened by both the loss of a great writer and a wonderful friend.

Tasmanian crime fiction author Josephine Pennicott said Koch's passing was a huge loss for Australian writing, describing him as a fascinating character whose love of the written word shone through in his beautiful writing style

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