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Miles Franklin Award 2019 shortlist

July 2, 2019

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)

Rodney Hall, A stolen season

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.

Melissa Lucashenko, Too Much LipStefanie 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?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2019 1:11 am

    Golly the omission of Boy swallows universe, is indeed a surprise. It seems to be everywhere I look right now

    • July 3, 2019 8:13 am

      You mean physically Karen, or on the ‘net? Either way that’s good. Prizes are good but being read is probably “gooder”!

  2. July 3, 2019 6:10 am

    Did I say already ? – that prize awards are subjective and actually represent not a lot ?
    Oh, I did, eh ?
    Story of my life …

  3. July 3, 2019 9:11 am

    I know I shouldn’t say this because it’s the Kiss of Death, but though I liked all the ones I’ve read, I hope that Too Much Lip wins it.

    I don’t think it will: (Though I haven’t read Noah Glass so I have no business having an opinion at all) I think they’ll give it to Gail Jones because she’s been an MF bridesmaid so many times.

    I can’t resist saying this either: is The Lebs on the list because it’s great lit, or because the judges wanted to deliver a slap in the face to Dutton? If you read Kim’s review at Reading Matters (“a potent mix of profanity, sex, lust, religion, racism, misogyny and hypermasculinity.” – see https://readingmattersblog.com/2019/07/02/the-lebs-by-michael-mohammed-ahmad/) it explains all the reasons why I found the book too distasteful to continue reading…the way he writes about women is beyond horrible.

    • July 3, 2019 1:09 pm

      Thanks Lisa. Yes, I read her review and Nancy’s. I guess I’ll hold judgement because I find it hard to accept that the judges would shortlist something that was not intended to “show” us something rather than to support such values? But I haven’t read it – and probably won’t – so I can’t really comment! Like you, I would love to see Lucashenko win, but I’ve read even fewer than you have so have even less right to an opinion.

  4. July 4, 2019 3:58 pm

    Goodness, I reckon it’s the first year that I haven’t read any 😦 (Too Much Lip should have been read, had I completed my Stella shortlist reading!).

  5. buriedinprint permalink
    July 10, 2019 4:23 am

    How interesting that the jury hasn’t changed much. I don’t have any useful experience with which to comment on the situation, but I enjoy following along and seeing which books you and Lisa choose. How lucky for you that some of the longlisted ones you’ve read have moved onwards: if you choose to fill the gaps, you’re a good bit ahead now.

    • July 10, 2019 10:11 am

      Thanks Buried, it is lovely – it rarely happens. I’d like to fill some gaps, particularly perhaps Gail Jones’ but I reckon time will still defeat me.

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  1. Miles Franklin Award 2019 shortlist — Whispering Gums | Slattery's Magazine

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