Miles Franklin Award 2014 Longlist

Earlier today Miles Franklin Literary Award’s Trust Company announced the longlist for this year’s award. As usual, it includes the full gamut – expected titles, along some surprise inclusions and omissions. One of the interesting exclusions would have to be, I think, Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda (my review). It certainly deals with “Australian life in any of its phases” but, like most of Tsiolkas’ work, it has strong supporters and just as strong critics.

Expected inclusions would be Flanagan’s The narrow road to the true north, which I’m hearing is many people’s favourite for the award, Winton’s Eyrie and Wright’s The swan book. These three are all on my current TBR pile. Indeed, my reading group is doing Eyrie this month, but unfortunately I’m missing that meeting. I’m thrilled to see Wyld’s All the birds singing in the list, and Lucashenko’s Mullumbimby, which is also in my sights as I’ve not read it but have read a short story drawn from it (my review). I’ve been reading a bit about McGregor’s The night guest lately in my role as Lit Classic reporter for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge so am happy to see it here. And I have heard good things about the novels by Farr, Hay and Taylor. I must admit, though, that I’ve not heard of Rothwell’s Belomar and Shearston’s Game, so must check those out.

Anyhow, here is the long list (in alphabetical order by author) – an unusual number of 11!

  • Tracy Farr, The life And loves of Lena Gaunt
  • Richard Flanagan, The narrow road to the deep north
  • Ashley Hay, The railwayman’s wife
  • Melissa Lucashenko, Mullumbimby
  • Fiona McFarlane, The night guest
  • Nicolas Rothwell, Belomor
  • Trevor Shearston, Game
  • Cory Taylor, My beautiful enemy
  • Tim Winton, Eyrie
  • Alexis Wright, The swan book
  • Evie Wyld, All the birds singing (my review)

The prize is currently worth $60,000. The shortlist will be announced at the State Library of NSW on May 15, with the winner being announced on June 26. Meanwhile, congratulations to the long listed authors – and good luck to them for the next round.

24 thoughts on “Miles Franklin Award 2014 Longlist

  1. What a great year it has been for Australian fiction. I’ve read The Night Guest, All the Birds, Singing, Eyrie and The Railway Man’s Wife and they have all been excellent. I would struggle to pick between them but would probably favour All the Birds, Singing if I had to choose. I also have The Narrow Road to the Deep North and The Swan Book in my tbr. I will try to read them prior to the shortlist being announced. I’m surprised that Coal Creek by Alex Miller is not on the list. I wonder why…

    • I agree Sharkell … it has been a great year, including a lot of great books that weren’t long listed, eh? I’m keen to read The railway man’s wife. It sounds up my alley too.

      And yes, I haven’t read Coal Creek but when I mentioned Barracuda Coal Creek also crossed my mind as one we might have expected to see in the list. And Roger McDonald’s The following was probably another contender?

      So many challenges – read new books, or old? Australian or overseas? Too much she cries!

      • I haven’t heard of The Following, I will have to have a look at that one. I think we are all in the same boat, too many books, not enough time! At least I will never run out of things to read. I can’t speak highly enough of The Railway Man’s Wife, I just loved it.

  2. There is a bit of a kerfuffle over Barracuda being left off the list, but my take is that it might be because of the criterion of ‘highest literary merit.’ In my opinion it wasn’t finely written and the comments on Beth Blanchard’s Guardian article are showing a bit of a trend. Some people are taking it really hard on twitter as if it’s offensive that it was left off, or (please excuse the term) somehow unAustralian, and conversely people who are saying it’s an ‘interesting list’ to me seem piqued at the inclusion of some titles (rather than the exclusion of others, or at the expense of the exclusion of others.) To me it’s all very ‘interesting’ indeed.

  3. When I went to see Tim Winton in Hobart last year he was saying what a genius of a book Flannagan’s book is. Then he talked about his own book. It was quite funny. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t win. Interesting times.

    • Thanks Pam … I had heard that Winton has been praising Flanagan’s novel. It’s great seeing authors support and appreciate each other so, isn’t it. It does sound like Flanagan is the front runner. But first, it will be interesting to see what makes the short list, won’t it.

  4. I’d be interested to read what you think about Eyrie. I’ve read some decidedly mixed reviews. Although I loved the first four Winton books I read, I was seriously turned off by Dirt Music (which apparently nobody else finds utterly preposterous). Buying Aussie fiction is inexplicably expensive over here, so I’m a bit nervous about plopping down the money for a mediocre read. Besides that, I’m always excited about book lists – so many wonderful stories out there!

    • Ah Vyvienn, I love that you like lists and even more that you are interested in OUR lists. Which Wintons have you read? I’ve read nearly all of his books and have enjoyed them all. I did like Dirt music though, as I recollect because it was a long time ago, those scenes up north did rather push the envelope. As a result it’s not among my favourites – which are Cloudstreet, The turning, Breath and a couple of early ones, That eye the sky and In the winter dark. There are so many wonderful stories out there, I agree.

      • Ha, that’s too funny, because you’re listing nearly exactly the ones I’ve read! I started with Cloudstreet, which is still my absolute favourite! I also enjoyed The Turning and was sorely disappointed that the ABC version cut so much out. Breath was wonderful, and I also have Land’s Edge, which was a lovely, albeit very short, read. Dirt Music started bothering me almost right off the bat, enough so that I may actually have to write a review…;)

        • I think you should write a review, Vyv. It’s important to have a variety of opinions out there. I think I forgot to mention The riders. It’s probably my least favourite. I enjoyed reading as I recollect but it didn’t have any extra oomph – that’s my literary critic’s term! – to make it memorable. I’ve seen Land’s edge around but haven’t read it.

  5. Such a long time for those authors to wait! It must be a special kind of agony to be on the long list and have to wait a month to find out if you made it to the short list and then have to wait yet another month to find out if you’ve won.

  6. At least you’ve read and reviewed one, which is one better than my tally. I would like to read The Night Guest, but have no idea when I’ll get to it.

    • Probably Flanagan’s The narrow road to the true north. Its subject is the Burma-Thai railroad and the buzz is not only that it’s a great read but that it’s “important”. I’m dying to read it … But am waiting to do it with my reading group.

  7. Interesting post and comment string. Personally I’m astounded that Tsiolkas’ ‘Barracuda’ is missing from the long-list. Whether it should have gone further in the process is another discussion, but I do think it’s an excellent Australian book by an Australian author of note. Also missing is ‘The Boyhood of Jesus’ by JM Coetzee, another important – and topical, if not essential – novel by a literary genius.

    • Yes, I agree re Tsiolkas Nigel … I knew of the Coetzee of course but have read little about it. He’s always interesting. Would this latest book meet the Australian life requirement of the Miles Franklin?

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