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Peter Temple’s Truth wins the 2010 Miles Franklin

June 22, 2010
Peter Temple, Truth

Truth bookcover (Courtesy: Text Publishing)

So, the waiting is over and Peter Temple has won the 2010 Miles Franklin Award. I’m kicking myself that I haven’t read it yet. I am not much of a crime-fiction reader – in fact I could probably count on one hand the crime novels I’ve read – but I did like his The broken shore (which itself won quite a few awards, though not the Miles Franklin). Truth is a sequel – at least in part – to The broken shore.

I’ll be interested to read the commentary on this announcement over the next few days but the win does suggest that the literary crime novel is becoming fully ensconced into the literary mainstream. According to one report Truth is the first work of “genre fiction” to win this award since it was established in 1957.

The Miles Franklin Trust website describes the novel as follows:

Temple’s winning novel is the much anticipated sequel to The Broken Shore and comprehends murder, corruption, family, friends, honour, honesty, deceit, love, betrayal – and truth. A stunning story about contemporary Australian life, Truth is written with great moral sophistication.

I’m not averse to a bit of moral sophistication, and you all know by now that explorations of truth engage me – so Truth here I come, soon!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2010 23:16

    Oh, I didn’t realise this was sequel to The Broken Shore! I wonder how closely it’s tied to the former? I remember enjoying The Broken Shore, but I can’t really remember much about it…

  2. June 23, 2010 04:09

    I read my fair share of crime fiction — and really enjoy it.

    I read The Broken Shore a couple of years ago and quite liked it, but I do remember it kind of going a bit over the top near the end.

    Interesting that a crime novel has won a “literary” award. I attended a mini-festival at Foyles earlier in the year, and they had a panel about Irish crime fiction (which is really burgeoning) and I asked a question (very brave of me), which was “do you ever see the day when a crime novel wins the Booker prize??” One of the panellists, a top-notch crime writer Gene Kerrigan (who’s also a journalist — writes some fantastic stuff for the Irish Times) was very definite in his opinion: the Booker is for literary novels, NOT crime novels. He seemed quite happy that they remain distinct entities and saw no reason for them to be competing against each other.

    I thought that was a very sensible and pragmatic approach. There almost seems to be the idea that crime fiction isn’t good enough or worthy enough and the only way to reconcile that is to win a literary award. But why? Sure, there’s some pretty crap crime novels out there, but there’s some damn fine ones, too. I can never understand why people are so snobby about the genre… Some of my greatest reads have been crime novels — particularly those with a bit of — to borrow your quote above — “moral sophistication”. Off the top of my head, I can think of Colin Harrison’s Manhattan Nocturne and Katsuo Kirino’s Out as two crime books that made an impression on me because of their “moral sophistication” — there’s probably more, but I’m too lazy to go digging through my archives! 😉

  3. June 23, 2010 05:34

    Sorry — me again. You might be interested in Maxine’s review: http://petrona.typepad.com/petrona/2010/01/book-review-truth-by-peter-temple-1.html

  4. June 23, 2010 09:37

    Hannah: From what I understand some police characters reappear but the main detective in The broken shore is not the main detective in Truth so it’s not a full sequel in my understanding of the word despite what the quote from the Miles Franklin Trust says.

    Kimbofo: Thanks for all that. I will check out Petrona’s review. I’m not so much snobby about crime fiction – as I said I’ve a few and I tend to watch a lot of mostly British crime on TV – but I guess in my reading I generally prefer different subject matter. BTW I’ve read Katsuo Kirino’s Grotesque and loved it. Would like to read Out one day. I’m not sure that I fully agree with Gene Kerrigan re the Booker. If a crime novel is seen by those who decide (ha!) as literary rather than genre why should it not win? Would he extend that to Historical Fiction (like say Wolf Hall?) What genres should be allowed and what shouldn’t? That said, I suppose, in general, I wouldn’t like to see the Booker hi-jacked by genre because most genres have their own awards don’t they? There, you see, my argument is as wishy-washy as usual: I believe this but on the other hand that!! LOL

  5. adevotedreader permalink
    June 23, 2010 12:52

    This made my day when I found out about it this morning, as Peter Temple is one of my favourite writers across genres.

    Truth is more a companion piece than a sequel to The Broken Shore, with Cashin’s ex-colleague Villani as protagonist and Cashin just having a cameo, so to anyone who hasn’t read or can’t remember the earlier book, don’t stress. Truth is intricately structured, has cracking dialogue and incorporates Villani’s personal life and events like Black Saturday to great effect, so I think it has plenty to offer the non-crime reader. I’ll be interested to find out what you make of it Sue.

    • June 23, 2010 16:33

      Thanks Sarah. Companion piece sounds like a good way of describing it. I AM intrigued so will try to get to it soon.

  6. June 23, 2010 22:20

    It sounds like this novel ‘Truth’ goes beyond genre fiction. I suppose ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ series is giving new credability to crime fiction.

    • June 23, 2010 23:15

      Maybe, Tony, though I think Temple has been recognised for the literary quality of his work before Larsson came on the scene. His novel The broken shore was longlisted for the Miles Franklin in 2006, and won the Australian Booksellers Association’s General Fiction award that year. But, I suppose Larsson could have helped books like this jump just that little bit more?

    • June 24, 2010 00:24

      Have you read Girl with a Dragon Tattoo? I thought it was fairly average. I enjoyed it at the time but I could not tell you anything about it now — nothing of the story has stuck with me.

      • June 24, 2010 01:04

        No, actually, I haven’t. At one stage I toyed with it but decided that I wasn’t keen enough to read it ahead of other books in my TBR pile. What you say here hasn’t changed my mind. I tell people who ask that I’m sure I’d enjoy it (as you said you did) but that I have so much to read I’ve decided to give other books a higher priority. Some accept that, while others look a bit askance … but sometimes you just have to draw a line don’t you.

  7. June 24, 2010 02:31

    Still 23 June, here … hello again, Sue. Fascinated to read this about a writer I don’t know – yet. To be remedied in short order, I hope. Although I’ll try to get my hands on ‘The Broken Shore’ first.
    I’m a devotee of crime fiction; but (there would be a ‘but’, wouldn’t there?) there’s an awful lot of mediocre stuff published in the genre. Real class shows through. And it’s much the same with historical fiction.
    I rather dislike strict genres, and enjoy a good mixture myself (if it was good enough for Charles Dickens …). Also, like you, I really don’t see why a superbly-written crime novel shouldn’t win one of the ‘literary’ prizes. That said, it is not as if there is exactly a dearth of prizes for crime – or readers for that matter – whereas truly literary fiction tends to have relatively fewer awards and, of course, appeals to a much smaller market. The latter’s a crucial factor, as sales count for much in these cases and publicity has to work both ways (giver/receiver).
    Many thanks for drawing my attention to an intriguing writer. Look forward to furthering my education – as well as what promises to be a Very Good Read!

  8. June 24, 2010 05:48

    I’m a bad book worm – I didn’t even know the award was being handed out. I was pretty surprised this won too. I thought it was just one of those thriller-ish books (not that there’s anything wrong with them) that seems a little out of character for the Miles Franklin award.

  9. June 24, 2010 09:11

    Minnie: Again, you were one of the people i thought of when I wrote this as I thought I recollected that you liked to read crime. As someone who reads only a little crime I can certainly recommend The broken shore. I thought the writing, characterisation and narrative were all excellent. I’ll watch out for your review one day!

    Mae: Have you read The broken shore? or Truth? If, like me, you don’t really read them, give them a try. You might also like to read – though it’s fiction, Truman Capote’s In cold blood. A riveting (if I dare use such a cliche) crime story and the beginning, I think, of the “true crime” genre.

    • June 24, 2010 21:07

      I’ve read neither but I have read In Cold Blood which I thought was absolutely brilliant. The fact that Capote could make it such a thrilling read even though we already know what happened and who did it is amazing. I think I will give Temple a go in the near future.

      • June 24, 2010 22:18

        Ah good, Mae…well, of course they’re very different but I couldn’t help be reminded of the Capote when I read The broken shore. so do give him a go.

  10. June 24, 2010 17:03

    Once more I am shamed by my lack of knowledge of Antipodean fiction. I very much enjoy the “literary crime” genre and will try to order this from the library.

    • June 24, 2010 17:50

      Ah yes, I remember your reviewing people like Lee Childs (that’s right isn’t it?). I look forward to seeing your review and hope I haven’t led you up the garden path. Remember, I haven’t read this one but his previous one The broken shore!

  11. June 25, 2010 12:22

    I’ll read it because it’s the ‘Miles Franklin’ winner, having read lots about Miles Franklin and by Miles Franklin, so I feel I ‘owe’ her! And I do like a good crime novel. But it will have to wait. Drowning in things to do. Life is so busy now.

    • June 25, 2010 15:09

      Isn’t it just! I’ll try to read it soon – may even encourage my bookgroup to do it. I’m not sure if all of them will be interested but enough might.

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