Thursday, 7 April 2016

Miles Franklin Award Longlist 2016

Since 1957, the Miles Franklin Award is a leading literary prize in Australia established by the estate of Stella Miles Franklin. Recent past winners include:
  • Sofia Laguna for The Eye of the Sheep (2015)
  • Evie Wyld for All the Birds, Singing (2014)
  • Michelle de Krester for Questions of Travel (2013)
  • Anna Funder for All That I Am (2012)

On 5 April 2016, the longlist for the 2016 Award was announced with 9 nominees, including several that are also in the running for the Stella Prize for women. The longlisted titles are:

Ghost River by Tony Birch
A coming of age story centring on the friendship between two boys, Sonny and Ren. Set in Melbourne in the late 1960s, the two boys spend their days on the banks of the Yarra, befriending some homeless 'river men'. Tony Birch wrote Shadowboxing (2006) and Blood (2011), the latter was shortlisted for this award.

Coming Rain by Stephen Daisley
Set in wheatbelt of Western Australia in 1955, two shearers have been travelling and working together since they were boys. This is a story of mateship, loss, and the environment. Daisley originally hails from New Zealand. His first novel Traitor (2011) won the Prime Minister's Literary Award.

Hope Farm by Peggy Frew
In this coming of age story set in the 1980s, thirteen year old Silver is taken to a hippie commune by her mother.  Silver longs for stability, while her mother is infatuated by the new man in her life. Mother-daughter relationships, growing up, belonging and first loves are explored. This is the second novel from Frew, after her award winning debut House of Sticks (2010). Frew's book is shortlisted for the Stella Prize.

Leap by Myfanwy Jones                         Twenty-two year old Joe is existing, not living. He works dead end jobs, lives day to day, and has abandoned all ambitions. He is struggling with grief, loss, and guilt. Elsie too is struggling through a  bad marriage, spending her days watching tigers at the Melbourne Zoo, trying to cope with her grief. Author of The Rainy Season (2009), Jones is a Melbourne based writer.

The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau
Juchau is a well regarded Australian author who has previously been shortlisted for various literary awards. This, her third novel, is about the Muller family who reside on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales. Grieving the loss of a child, Evangeline is no longer able to paint and struggles to care for her remaining daughters. Her apiarist husband also mourns and seeks solace in drink.
The Hands - An Australian Pastoral by Stephen Orr
Set on a cattle station in western South Australia, this novel explores the relationships between three generations of one farming family. Orr is the author of Time's Long Ruin (2010) - about the disappearance of the Beaumont children - and crime novel One Boy Missing (2014).

Black Rock White City by A C Patric                A Serbian couple have migrated to Melbourne after the Bosnian war. Jovan is a cleaner at a hospital while Suzanah is a carer. Both have unseen scars from the trauma of war, as they rebuild themselves in a new land. AC Patric is an award winning author of short stories, including Las Vegas for Vegans, and this is his first novel. 

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar                                     It's 1855 and fifteen year old Hester Finch lives in Adelaide with her family. Her father decides to move the family to Salt Creek, a remote property in South Australia. Here they learn about the Ngarrindjeri people and adapt to a new life. Treloar is best known for her short stories. Salt Creek is her debut novel.

The Natural Way of Things
 by Charlotte Wood  (read review)
Wood's novel has been compared to Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale and as such is definitely on my reading list. Two women are drugged and taken to an isolated property where they find they are imprisoned with eight other girls. Each has a common past for which they are being punished in this powerful feminist novel.

The Shortlist will be announced in May 2016 with the prize announced in June 2016. My money is on Charlotte Wood.

One other note: the Miles Franklin Award has its own website, but this year all info appears to have been directed to a section of its trustee Perpetual's website. Why?  This is rather disappointing and  points to a degree of commercialism that distracts from the rich history of the award. Just sayin'.