This year’s announcement of the shortlist for the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award includes two former winners, Kim Scott and Michelle de Kretser, and four other authors, all of whom have received literary accolades and are strong contenders to receive the $60,000 literary prize in August.
Regarded as Australia’s most prestigious literature prize, the six authors – four women and two men – shortlisted works span genres, histories and cultures. The novels offer readers a remarkable collection of stories dealing with disconnection, dispossession and violence as well as experiences of grief, hope and love. They reflect deeply and often humorously on Australian life in the past, present and future.
The shortlist shines true to the vision of esteemed My Brilliant Career author Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, who established the award through her will to showcase significant and insightful literature that presents Australian life in any of its phases.
The 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award Shortlist is:
No More Boats by Felicity Castagna (Giramondo Publishing):
A man, once a migrant himself, finds his world imploding. He is forced to retire, his wife and left him, and his children ignore him. The 2001 Tampa crisis is the background to his despair at the disappearance of the certainties he once knew.
The Life To Come by Michelle de Kretser (Allen & Unwin):
Revolving around three characters in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, this novel is about the stories we tell and don’t tell ourselves as individuals, societies and nations, and highlights how the past and future can change the present.
The Last Garden by Eva Hornung (Text Publishing):
When Matthias Orion shoots his wife and himself, on the same day their son Benedict returns from boarding school, a small religious community is shattered. Benedict is struck dumb with grief. Their pastor feels his authority challenged by the tragedy. Both must come to terms with the unknowable past and the frailties of being human.
Storyland by Catherine McKinnon (HarperCollins Publishers):
Set on Lake Illawarra, this is a compelling novel of five separate narratives which span four centuries. Ultimately all these characters are connected by blood, history, place and memory: together they tell the story of Australia.
Border Districts by Gerald Murnane (Giramondo Publishing):
Similar to the author himself, the narrator of this novel has moved from bustling Melbourne to a small town on the Wimmera Plains, where he intends to spend the last years of his life. Mediating on fragments of his past, exhaustively and compulsively, Border Districts explores the borderland between life and death.
Taboo by Kim Scott (Picador Australia – Pan Macmillan Australia):
Set in present-day rural Western Australia, this novel tells the story of a group of Noongar people, who after many decades revisit a taboo area: the site of a massacre. Taboo explores how the Noongar and descendants of the family that initiated the massacre so long ago wrestle with the possibilities of reconciliation.
Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Mitchell Librarian of the State Library of NSW, Richard Neville said: “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.”
In addition to Richard Neville, the judging panel includes The Australian journalist and columnist Murray Waldren; Monash University book critic Dr Melinda Harvey; Sydney-based bookseller Lindy Jones; and Emeritus Professor Susan Sheridan.
The winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2018 will be announced in Melbourne on Sunday 26 August 2018, and will receive $60,000 in prize money for the novel judged as being ‘of the highest literary merit’ and which presents ‘Australian life in any of its phases’. Each of the 2018 shortlisted authors will receive $5,000 from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.
For more information about the Miles Franklin Literary Award, visit: www.milesfranklin.com.au for details.