I 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.