Archie Roach’s memoir wins $25,000 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award

Roach's memoir 'Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music' won the award in the Indigenous writing category

Archie Roach has won a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for his memoir Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music.

The book was published by Simon and Schuster Australia and details Roach’s life growing up as a child of the Stolen Generation and his journey into music. The book won the Prize for Indigenous Writing category in the literary awards, which were held last night (February 1) in a virtual ceremony.

A companion album with the same name was also released, which went on to win Roach the ARIA Awards for Best Male Artist and Best Adult Contemporary Album.


In a statement accepting the award, Roach spoke about the need for more literature around Australia’s Indigenous history.

“We need to understand and write about the First People’s experience and history as well [as migrants’ experiences] because they’re both connected, they’re intertwined. We can’t separate the two, really,” he said.

The award for Indigenous writing, along with the categories for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young adult and drama, each come with a $25,000 cash prize.

“Books and writing have always been important, but in the past 12 months they were a life-line – keeping us entertained, informed, inspired and connected,” Victorian creative industries Danny Pearson said.

“Congratulations to this year’s winners and nominees, for bringing your voice, imagination and perspective to readers across the globe this past year.”


Last year, Roach was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. He is scheduled to perform at this year’s Live At The Bowl and WOMADelaide concert series.