Well, good news for me in that I had read three of the longlist, and two of those have made it through to the shortlist. Interestingly, the one that didn’t, Trent Dalton’s Boy swallows universe, has been making such a splash that I rather expected it to be shortlisted. But, as we all know, you can never second guess literary judges.
So, here is the shortlist:
- Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s The Lebs (Nancy’s review) (Hachette)
- Gregory Day’s A sand archive (Lisa’s review) (Picador)
- Rodney Hall’s A stolen season (my review) (Picador)
- Gail Jones’ The death of Noah Glass (Text)
- Melissa Lucashenko’s Too much lip (my review) (UQP)
- Jennifer Mills’ Dyschronia (Lisa’s review) (Picador)
Some random observations:
- There’s fair diversity here, with Ahmad and Lucashenko both making to to the shortlist.
- Three women and three men! That’s neat.
- Rodney Hall has won twice before, for Just relations and The grisly wife, and has now been shortlisted four more times.
- Lucashenko has, this year, been shortlisted for the Stella Prize, the Victorian and NSW Premiers’ literary awards, and the Australian Book Industry awards.
- This will be the fourth time that Gail Jones has been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin.
- And, three of the six books were published by Picador! Congrats to them.
Stefanie Convery, writing in The Guardian (Australia), reports that:
Judge Bernadette Brennan said this year’s authors were “unafraid to take risks” in their narratives, which addressed “complex, disparate and urgent aspects of contemporary Australian life”.
This is certainly true of the two I’ve read …
Michaela Boland, writing for the ABC News, spoke to Michael Mohammed Ahmad, and wrote this:
While Mr Ahmad said that [winning the Prize] would be welcomed, the honour itself had already eased the insecurity and inadequacy he said was inherent to being an Arab Muslim immigrant in Australia.
“Three years ago our immigration minister Peter Dutton said second or third-generation Lebanese Australians like me are the mistakes of the Fraser government,” he said, after he learned his second book was one of the six short-listed.
It’s so distressing that Ahmad and, clearly, many other Australian citizens have to live their lives feeling this way – and that our government doesn’t seem to think it has a role to play in setting a welcoming, inclusive tone.
Anyhow, the judges, as I wrote in my longlist post, for this year are almost the same as last year’s: Richard Neville (State Library of NSW), Murray Waldren (journalist and columnist for The Australian), Dr Melinda Harvey (book critic), Lindy Jones (bookseller), and Bernadette Brennan (author and literary critic). Brennan replaces last year’s Susan Sheridan.
The winner will be announced on 30 July in Sydney.
What do you think?