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Miles Franklin Award 2018 Shortlist

June 17, 2018

Having posted this year’s Miles Franklin Award Longlist I decided I may as well keep on with it! After all, it is, probably, Australia’s most watched award. The shortlist was announced in Canberra tonight – not that I was invited!

Catherine McKinnon, StorylandHere is the list:

Some random observations:

  • Gerald Murnane, a neglected Australian author has made it through to the shortlist, which is great to see. Of being longlisted, he said he was “gratified”, because it was “a suitable reward for the hard task of writing the book.”
  • Two previous winners, Michelle de Kretser and Kim Scott, have made it through.
  • Recent winner of the Premier’s Award in the 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, Hornung, has also made the cut. Her novel The Last Garden has also been shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. Hornung, who hasn’t been listed for the Miles Franklin, said of being longlisted that it felt “like a personal endorsement.”
  • McKinnon, who has been overlooked, to date, by other awards, has also been shortlisted – which is great to see because it’s an interesting book and a good read. She said about being longlisted that she was “Delighted, dizzy, honoured, thrilled.” What will she feel now!
  • Four of the six books are by women writers, and one is by an indigenous writer.

Judge Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian of the State Library of NSW, said, justifying the shortlisting in terms of Miles Franklin’s criteria:

The Miles Franklin 2018 shortlist engages with the complexities of Australian life in all of its phases, and the legacy of its timeless Indigenous past and its recent European present. All the novels explore how Australians connect with their complex stories, with their emotional histories, and with the legacy of colonisation. Each author in the shortlist considers what it means to live in a particular location, with unique and challenging vision. The vibrancy of contemporary Australian literature, and its relevance to thinking through the challenges of modern Australia, is confirmed with this diverse and intelligent shortlist.

The winner will take away $60,000, and each shortlisted order will receive $5,000 from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

The judges for this year are: Richard Neville (State Library of NSW),  Murray Waldren (journalist and columnist for The Australian), Dr Melinda Harvey (book critic), Lindy Jones (bookseller), and Susan Sheridan (Emeritus Professor in Humanities, Flinders University).

The winner will be announced in Melbourne on 26 August. I congratulate them all and wish them luck …

Is your favourite there? Do you want to make a prediction?

27 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2018 9:08 pm

    Well, I would really like to see Murnane win it. He is a serious contender for the Nobel Prize and it’s ridiculous that he hasn’t won our most prestigious prize.
    But having said that, I think this is the strongest shortlist we’ve had in a very long time, and they are all great books.

    • June 17, 2018 9:45 pm

      Not having read them all, Lisa, I don’t feel in a position to make a prediction, but given they are all good books as you say, and I believe they are, I would love to see Murnane win because he’s been overlooked for too long.

  2. June 17, 2018 9:37 pm

    Well I’m glad I didn’t make any predictions (which would have been based on nothing because I’ve only read one – The Life to Come) – but my picks would have been based around three I want to read – Some Tests, The Restorer and From the Wreck… none of which made the shortlist!

    • June 17, 2018 9:44 pm

      Yes, I know the feeling Kate. My problem is that I was to read them all. And my reading has slowed down to a crawl at the moment.

  3. Cultusgirl permalink
    June 17, 2018 9:42 pm

    I am disappointed that Peter Carey’s A Long Way from Home did not make it as I LOVED it. Having said that, I have not read the others so they might be even more deserving. Husband has read Storyland and thought terrific.

    • June 17, 2018 9:49 pm

      Thanks for commenting cultusgirl. I was hoping Carey would be there too because I have it on my pile, and am fascinated by the topic, whereas some of the others I don’t. But, I agree with your husband re Storyland. It’s a good read.

  4. June 18, 2018 2:59 am

    It would be great to think I could get to read some of these but the cost is prohibitive in the UK and the library system reacts with horror when I ask if they might be ordering this. You’d think I had asked for a copy of Shakespeare in folio edition …

    • June 18, 2018 8:03 am

      That library reaction is sad Karen… Sounds like there’s just no interest in Aussie literature. The names this year are mostly well-established, well-regarded writers. If overseas libraries aren’t interested in those, it’s disappointing.

    • June 18, 2018 11:46 pm

      You might consider ordering via the Book Depository? Free shipping all around the world!

      • June 19, 2018 8:26 am

        Good advice Angharad. The cost in Wales may still be high? Karen! Do you ever use Book Depository?

      • June 20, 2018 4:59 am

        That’s a good idea – it would certainly address the shipping cost issue. The books themselves though are expensive

        • June 20, 2018 7:40 am

          Yes I thought that might be the case. BD was cheap once but not so much now. Books have always been expensive in Australia, and accessing foreign non-bestsellers used to be very hard, so for us BD is a godsend.

        • June 23, 2018 7:35 pm

          I know I complain sometimes about book prices but when I see the costs in other countries (USA is also I think a bit costly) I feel grateful for what I can get in the UK

        • June 23, 2018 7:50 pm

          USA used to be so cheap compared to Australia. It’s still expensive here bit US seems to be catching up.

  5. Meg permalink
    June 18, 2018 7:35 am

    HI Sue, I am disappointed some of my preferences didn’t make the list, but that is the way it is sometimes. I think Gerald Murnane deserves to win, and if not him I think it will be Michelle De Kretser. Both are beautiful writers.

    • June 18, 2018 8:08 am

      You can’t win them all, Meg, in this business, can you. Which were your preferences again. Rawson? Sala? Carey?

  6. Nawnim permalink
    June 18, 2018 9:16 am

    I have only read Storyland and I just loved it. I thought the linking of five different stories to the one location but all set in different time periods was brilliant and innovative which alone makes the book worthy of the award. I hope it wins. I personally don’t like de Kretser, (who I think is seriously overrated,) Murnane, or Kim Scott which is probably why I haven’t read their books. I cynically wonder who is promoting them and why we are always being told how brilliant they are.

    • June 18, 2018 12:12 pm

      I agree about Storyland, Nawnim. I thought it was clever to link the narrative by the land and some specific objects. I’m still surprised it wasn’t picked up by the Stella.

      Interesting re those other writers. I like some de Kretser’s more than others but I did find Questions of travel provocative about travelling. I loved it. I also loved Kim Scott’s That deadman dance. It has stayed with me in a way that most books don’t. Murnane can be pretty tricky. I guess he’s the sort of writer you have to let flow over you. I want to read this latest one – if I can just fit it in. My reading group had a good discussion of The plains.

      • June 18, 2018 4:53 pm

        It’s a great list & I couldn’t pick a winner but I agree that it really should be Gerald Murnane’s turn. More for his body of work I suppose, though I know that isn’t really the criterion for it.

        • June 18, 2018 9:18 pm

          Thanks Jan, lovely to hear from you. As for Murnane, no that isn’t really the criterion but if the book is very good then surely the rest can subtly boost it?? It would certainly look terrible if one day he won the Nobel, as has been suggested, but he’d never won the Miles, wouldn’t it?

  7. June 18, 2018 11:47 am

    We’ll have to figure out a way to wangle invitations for next year!

    • June 18, 2018 12:13 pm

      We wil Angharad – if they do it here again. I think they move around a bit? I heard nothing about it on the grapevine, except that I knew it was here from the Perpetual people’s announcement. Still, I’d feel embarrassed if I hadn’t read most of the books!!

      • June 18, 2018 12:17 pm

        I know, it’s like the Australian Bookseller’s Association. I was seeing so much great social media about the conference this weekend, and I’m now contemplating opening a bookstore so I can get an invite to next year’s conference!

        • June 18, 2018 1:28 pm

          Haha, Angharad. Yes, a friend of mine was going, but she’s in the industry. She was looking forward to it.

  8. June 20, 2018 2:27 pm

    I’ve read Felicity Castagna’s No more boats, Eva Hornung’s The last garden and Catherine McKinnon’s Storyland. I need to read the others, so no predictions from me.

  9. June 20, 2018 2:27 pm

    Reblogged this on Tasmanian Bibliophile @Large and commented:
    I’ve read three of the books on the shortlist, and now (greedily) want to read the others.

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