Miles Franklin Award 2023 longlist

I haven’t posted a Miles Franklin longlist for a while, but when I saw today’s come through with its intriguing mix of titles, I decided it was time to do one again.

The longlist

  • Kgshak Akec, Hopeless kingdom (UWAP)
  • Robbie Arnott, Limberlost (Text) (my review)
  • Jessica Au, Cold enough for snow (Giramondo) (my review)
  • Shankari Chandran, Chai time at Cinnamon Gardens (Ultimo Press) (Brona’s review)
  • Claire G Coleman, Enclave (Hachette) (Bill’s review, on my TBR)
  • George Haddad, Losing face (UQP)
  • Pirooz Jafari, Forty nights (Ultimo Press)
  • Julie Janson, Madukka: The river serpent (UWAP)
  • Yumna Kassab, The lovers (Ultimo Press)
  • Fiona Kelly McGregor, Iris (Pan Macmillan Australia) (Lisa’s review; kimbofo’s review)
  • Adam Ouston, Waypoints (Puncher & Wattmann) (Lisa’s review)

Some random observations:

  • There is impressive diversity in the writers listed as I recollect there was last year, including seven of the eleven being by women, and two being by First Nations writers.
  • Independent publishers are well represented, which is also becomings more common in recent prize listings
  • Only a small number of these have been reviewed by my usual list of litblogger suspects, which makes me wonder about our reading choices versus those being chosen for these awards lists.
  • Most of the novels are by authors with at least one book under their belt but Hopeless kingdom is a debut novel by a Sudanese-Australian author. Like many debut novels it is inspired by her own experience of migration from Africa to Australia. It won the Dorothy Hewett Award for unpublished manuscript in 2021. 
  • There’s been little commentary today on the news sites, but hopefully this is because the announcement is less than a day old – or, maybe longlists just don’t garner the same interest as shortlists?

The judging panel

The 2023 judges are, from the announcement on the Perpetual Trustees website, Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian of the State Library of NSW and Chair; author and literary critic, Dr Bernadette Brennan; literary scholar and translator, Dr Mridula Nath Chakraborty; book critic, Dr James Ley; and author and editor, Dr Elfie Shiosaki. This is, I believe, the same panel as last year’s, but Chakraborty and Shiosaki were new last year so there is some commitment to refreshing the panel. I don’t think it hurts for there to be some stability in panels, but a managed turnover is also important. (Says she!)

From this website too is a statement from the judging panel:

The 2023 longlist is a reflection of the breadth and depth of contemporary Australian story-telling. The eleven longlisted novels define Australian literature as a transformative space where writers are singing the songs of the nation today. They reverberate with the cadences of this land where Indigenous sovereignty was never ceded, but also bring to us mellifluous sounds from far-away lands, weaving together literary traditions from around the world. The words of our novelists, grounded in personal experience, poetry and philosophy, are heralds of the new dawn of Australian fiction: they hum and hiss with language that is newly potent and styles that are imaginative and fresh.

The shortlist will be announced on 20 June, and the winner on 25 July.


24 thoughts on “Miles Franklin Award 2023 longlist

  1. Or maybe no one knows the list has even been announced! Thanks for publishing. I always thought it was announced last week of May. Not sure where I got that from. There’s a couple of books on here that I have tried to read and abandoned ( not saying which ones) so it’s an “interesting” list. I’d love to see Robbie Arnott win!

  2. Like Kim I missed/forgot. didn’t know the longlist was out today until I saw your post. Also like Kim I have 3 books on this list that I couldn’t get into, but that’s made up by the three on here that I loved!

    I’m keen to try Kgshak Akec’s Hopeless Kingdom – it sounds intriguing now that I know about it – the good thing about longlists, of course, is the discovery of a new-to-me author (and writing prize).

  3. It was announced on Twitter yesterday: but I haven’t had any other communication from them. Maybe it was on Instagram or #WrySmile Mastodon …
    Anyway, as one of the usual suspects, I’ll fess up… as you can see from my post, there are a couple here that I abandoned, or (more kindly) didn’t enjoy enough to finish before it was due back at the library.
    There are a lot of books around about the ‘migrant experience’ and my problem with them is that they are treading the same discontented path as each other. This is not to say that they are not important books, but I personally have read plenty of them and I would now rather read something else.

    • I’m pretty sure mine wasn’t Twitter but a newsfeed that came through my notifications … when I clicked on the notification it went straight to the Perpetual announcement I THINK!!! All I remember is that it was lunchtime and I was waiting for my friend!

      Take your point re migrant experience. There have been many over the years now but mostly I still enjoy them. I probably haven’t started as many as you have!

  4. I’ve added Hopeless Kingdom to my wish list (well, my temporary Amazon one that I will transfer to my proper one when I get a minute). It’s available in a decently priced Kindle edition, hooray! An interesting list.

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