60 years ago, author Miles Franklin had a vision: to advance and better Australian literature. As the shortlist for the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award is revealed, it’s fair to say Miles herself would be delighted to see five first-time nominees, each with their own distinct voice and writing style, recognised in the Awards’ jubilee year.
Regarded as Australia’s most prestigious literature prize, The Miles Franklin Literary Award was established through the will of My Brilliant Career author, Miles Franklin. First awarded in 1957, the prize is awarded each year to the novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.
The 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist is:
• An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire (Pac Macmillan Australia): An intriguing exploration of two women, a murder, and media and masculinity set in a tough regional town.
• The Last Days of Ava Langdon by Mark O’Flynn (University of Queensland Press): A warmly empathetic portrayal of a misunderstood but spirited outsider who refuses to concede to society’s conventional expectations.
• Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill (Black Inc): A rich and entertaining satire featuring 15 biographies of imagined Australian writers whose bizarre and exaggerated lives are neatly slotted into real literary history.
• Waiting by Philip Salom (Puncher & Wattmann): A deftly executed and very human novel about a pair of odd couples, who are both waiting for something or someone to change their lives.
• Extinctions by Josephine Wilson (UWA Publishing): A clever and compassionate novel exploring ageing, adoption, grief and remorse; rescue and resistance to rescue.
“Like all great literature, the five novels on the 2017 Miles Franklin shortlist explore the restorative power of love, the pernicious influence of the past upon the present, the tragedy of the present avoiding the past, the challenge of unconventional identities, the interweaving of lives across communities, the devastation of grief, and the war zone that is the media, masculinity and a small country town,” said State Library of NSW Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville, speaking on behalf of the judging panel.
“Yet again the shortlist celebrates the diversity of voices and approaches to writing about Australian life. None of these novels draw on familiar tropes of Australian literature – yet each brings a distinctive pitch of truth and insight into the Australian experience.”
Mr Neville is joined on the judging panel by The Australian journalist and columnist, Murray Waldren; Sydney bookseller, Lindy Jones; book critic, Dr Melinda Harvey; and Emeritus Professor, Susan Sheridan.
Each of the 2017 shortlisted authors will receive $5,000 from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. The 2017 winner will be announced on 7 September at the State Library of New South Wales – receiving the $60,000 prize. For more information, visit: www.milesfranklin.com.au for details.
Image: The 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlisted books (supplied)