The 2019 Shortlist was announced this week and it includes some familiar faces along with those less well known.
Michael Mohammed Ahmad - The Lebs
A coming-of-age novel about a teenage boy, Bani Adam growing up in Western Sydney in the post 9/11 days. This novel won the NSW Premier's Literary Awards - Multicultural NSW Award 2019. Bani and his friends at Punchbowl Boys High School are navigating their way in the world as young Muslims.
The narrator is a young writer who finds a strange manual called 'The Great Ocean Road: Dune Stabilisation and Other Engineering Difficulties' by FB Herschell. As the writer explores this manual, he discovers that Herschell composes poetry about sand in between the lines of his archive. The novel takes the reader back to France in the 1960s.
This novel explores the lives of three, seemingly unrelated people. One is an injured Iraq war veteran returning home. Another is a woman who was betrayed in marriage. Finally, there is a man who receives a bequest. Rodney Hall previously won this award for Just Relations (1982) and The Grisly Wife (1994).
Gail Jones - The Death of Noah Glass
Noah Glass is an art historian who is found dead in his swimming pool after a trip to Italy. While his children grieve, they discover he is the suspect for a theft of a sculpture from a Palermo museum. Jones' novel was longlisted for the Stella Prize this year.
Melissa Lucashenko - Too Much Lip
When her Pop is dying, Kerry Slater steals a Harley and heads south to see him. This novel was shortlisted for this year's Stella Prize with judges praising it as 'a fearless, searing and unvarnished portrait of generational trauma cit through with acerbic humour'. Lucashenko was longlisted for the Miles Franklin in 2014 for Mullumbimby.
When the sea disappears one morning from a small coastal town, one woman believes that she has foreseen this event. Sam's frequent migraines give her glimpses of the future. Mills' dystopian novel focuses on the perils of climate change.
To be honest, I am not sure how I feel about the shortlist as none of these titles particularly excite me. When the longlist was released in May, I thought for sure that Trent Dalton would win with his acclaimed Boy Swallows Universe. Now that he is out, I am hoping that Melissa Lucashenko takes home the prize. Of all the shortlisted novels, Too Much Lip is the only one I care to read, and I admire Lucashenko's work.
The winner will be revealed on 30 July.