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Miles Franklin Award 2016 Longlist

April 7, 2016

Tony Birch, Ghost riverI don’t always post the Miles Franklin Award Longlist, but having posted on the award in this week’s Monday Musings, I feel I’m on a roll! The longlist was announced the day after my post, so I thought I’d give it a couple of days before I bombarded you again!

Here is the list:

  • Tony Birch’s Ghost River (my review)
  • Stephen Daisley’s Coming rain
  • Peggy Frew’s Hope farm
  • Myfanwy Jones’ Leap
  • Mireille Juchau’s The world without us
  • Stephen Orr’s The hands: An Australian pastoral (my review)
  • AS Patrić’s Black rock white city
  • Lucy Treloar’s Salt Creek
  • Charlotte Wood’s The natural way of things

Some random observations:

  • Five of the nine longlisted books are by women writers. The Guardian, in its announcement of the award, wrote that “In 2009, the award came under fire for an all-male shortlist, but since then Miles Franklin longlists have comprised 41 women and 33 men.” This 2009 shortlist, together with a very poor showing for women over the history of the awards up to 2011, was a factor that led to the creation of the Stella Prize. Tara Moss wrote on her blog, back in 2011, that “Since the Miles Franklin Award began in 1957, a woman has won 13 times. Four times this woman was Thea Astley, but twice she shared the award. Since 2001 two women have won, from the pool of 10 awards.” Since then, as The Guardian says, women have fared significantly better, but that doesn’t mean vigilance isn’t still needed. No-one wants women to win on anything except merit. Recent pushes therefore are not about some sort of affirmative action, but about consciousness raising to ensure that biases – conscious or otherwise – don’t affect women’s writing being published in the first place or being taken seriously at awards’ time*.
  • Although on average I read more books by women than by men, I’ve only read two of the longlist and both are by men – proving that I’m not as one-sided as I might sometimes look!
  • Three of five books by women – those by Frew, Juchau and Wood – have also been shortlisted for the Stella Prize.
  • Lucy Treloar’s Salt Creek is a debut novel.

The shortlist will be announced in May, and the winner in June. As far as I can tell, no specific dates beyond that have been published, certainly not on any official sites.

* Oh, and I fully appreciate that women aren’t the only group of writers who could benefit by consciousness-raising. Indigenous writers, writers from other diverse backgrounds, experimental writers – all don’t feature well enough our major awards.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2016 12:13 am

    These are all writers I haven’t read – 2 I own, but have been TBR’d. I think writers might be like policemen (ok, police), they’re all getting younger. Do you think the day of the baby boomer writer is over at last?

    • April 8, 2016 6:19 am

      Oh dear, Bill … that’s a scary thought, but you are probably right. Some of them are still writing but I guess it the bulk of writers now are coming from the next generations aren’t they?

  2. April 8, 2016 6:20 am

    Oh, and which two do you own Bill? Wood and another? You would appreciate Orr, I’m sure.

    • April 8, 2016 6:55 am

      Wood and Patric (if my son hasn’t taken it back to Melb). I wasn’t sure about Orr – the Nularbor is sheep country but I checked, there were some cattle stations – maybe if I can get it as an audio book.

      • April 8, 2016 9:47 am

        Oh Bill, the Orr is a good read. Wonderfully natural father-son, brother-brother writing. I must read Patric.

  3. April 8, 2016 7:11 am

    I’m thrilled to see Patric’s novel on the list. As the months pass by it is becoming the 2015 read that has left the biggest impression on me yet I fear it may not be what the judges are looking for (but who can ever confidently guess?)

    • April 8, 2016 9:49 am

      Absolutely Orange Pekoe! Who can guess. But, I must read Patric. I’ve heard people praise him, but “the biggest impression” is a big commendation.

  4. April 8, 2016 7:58 am

    I pick up Leap today and have read the others. I don’t think there is a stand out. Ghost River I enjoyed the most. Lucy Treloar’s novel needed more editing, but my money would be on Salt River.

    • April 8, 2016 9:52 am

      Ah, interesting Meg. I’ve heard good things about Salt Creek. I was wondering if, given its traction, that Wood’s book will be up there. Let’s see who’s in the shortlist – Treloar, Birch, Wood? Hmm … Patric?

  5. Travellin'Penguin (Pam)h permalink
    April 8, 2016 9:31 am

    I think all awards should judge the books without author names attached. That seems to be the only way bias does not enter into it. It will be interesting to see who gets picked this year.
    On another note I am excited as I am going to Sydney Writers festival. Flying up and looking forward to it. Travellinpenguin

  6. April 8, 2016 9:34 am

    I think all books up for awards should be judged without the names of authors being known to prevent all kinds of bias. On another note I am treating myself to a week in Sydney to attend writers festival next month. Do you know if any bloggers congregate to meet each other? Just curious.

    • April 8, 2016 9:55 am

      I think that’s a great idea Pam. Like a blind wine tasting. I think that has been done but it would be fascinating to see how different some of the decisions might be.

      Good for you re the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I think I did hear once of bloggers meeting up – maybe 3 or 4 years ago – but I haven’t heard anything since. Are you on Twitter? It might be worth putting out a call to see who’s going.

      • ian darling permalink
        April 8, 2016 7:02 pm

        What a great idea from Travellin’ Penguin! It would be great to try it at least once because imagine all the guessing games that would go on about who wrote what.

        Do you know which novel on the list has the most buzz around it? That might be published over here and I would give it a go!

        • April 8, 2016 7:13 pm

          It is isn’t it, Ian. I don’t have my ear fully to the ground, but Charlotte Wood’s The natural way of things has received a lot of notice since its publication late last year. The others all have claims, but I haven’t heard any particular buzz for one over another.

  7. ian darling permalink
    April 8, 2016 7:23 pm

    The Charlotte Wood novel does look very interesting. Allen and Unwin….publishers I never knew still existed!

    • April 8, 2016 8:02 pm

      They’ve been going a long time … Have done well I think to survive as long as they have, but I understand what you’re saying. They don’t seem visible though they do publish some big writers here.

  8. April 9, 2016 1:17 am

    Pretty good male/female ratio on the longlist. Are you planning on reading the seven on the list you have not yet read? I think it’s pretty funny that the ones you have read are by men.

    • April 9, 2016 1:19 am

      Oh, and it would be really interesting to see a list in which diversity of all kinds ruled. It seems like some prizes are starting to move in that direction but there is still a long way to go.

    • April 9, 2016 8:57 am

      I think it is too Stefanie. No, I don’t plan to read all those. Too many other books and I never set prize-reading goals. I’m on a quest to read more Stella Shortlist but I don’t plan to finish that either. I don’t like that sort of pressure. Reading is for fun.

      • April 11, 2016 9:16 am

        I like your attitude! Reading is for fun but sometimes I find it so easy to stress myself out about it. I think I am getting better about not worrying but now and then I have little panics 🙂

        • April 11, 2016 9:10 pm

          Moi aussi, Stefanie. For all my fine words, I have to keep working at it – but the more I work at it, I find, the better I get at it. Funny that!

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