Well, the Miles Franklin Award judges have announced the winner of the 2014 award, and it is Evie Wyld’s All the birds, singing – the only shortlisted book I’ve read! How lucky am I? Check my review, if you are interested.
I loved All the birds, singing, and agree with the judges that it is “spare, yet pitch perfect”, and both “visceral and powerfully measured in tone”. It’s a story about coming to terms with the past, about redemption. As I said in my review, it’s not the first book to deal with this subject but it is tight, powerful, evocative.
From my understanding of the award, Wyld, now apparently permanently resident in England, meets the requirements which are that, to quote the press release, the work must be “of the highest literary merit” and present “Australian Life in any of its phases”. Wyld is a dual national with an Australian mother*, and does, I understand, return to Australia from time to time. However, I don’t believe the rules state that the winner must be resident in Australia, or be Australian. They do state that the book must be in English and must represent Australia in content. Wyld’s book, set partly in Australia and partly in England, meets both these requirements.
The other shortlisted titles were:
- Richard Flanagan’s Narrow road to the deep north (on my TBR, and to be read late this year)
- Fiona McFarlane’s The night guest
- Cory Taylor’s My beautiful enemy
- Alexis White’s The swan book (on my TBR)
- Tim Winton’s Eyrie (on my TBR – unfortunately I was away when my reading group did this)
* I initially wrote here that she was born in Australia. I’ve seen so many stories about her origins and her relationship with Australia, but I understand now that she was born in England, has lived here, still has family here, and visits here. All this though is not relevant to the award, as I understand it.