Michelle de Kretser has won the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel The Life to Come, published by Allen & Unwin. This win makes her the third woman in the Award’s 61-year history to win the top prize more than once.
Michelle joins a select group of female multi-Award winners, including Thea Astley who won the Miles Franklin four times (1962, 1965, 1972, 2000) and is equal record holder with Tim Winton for most wins. Jessica Anderson won the Award twice (1978,1980). Michelle’s previous win was in 2013 for her novel Questions of Travel.
“I feel twice as lucky, twice as happy, and twice as honoured,” said Michelle on winning the Miles Franklin for a second time.
Recognised as Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, was established in 1954 by the estate of My Brilliant Career author Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin to celebrate the Australian character and creativity.
It supports the betterment of Australian literature by each year recognising the novel of the highest literary merit which presents Australian Life in any of its phases. Since being established, the Award has distributed more than $1.1 million in philanthropic funds to authors.
Michelle will receive $60,000 in prize money. Her novel was selected from a remarkable shortlist, including: Felicity Castagna’s No More Boats; Eva Hornung’s The Last Garden; Catherine McKinnon’s Storyland; Gerald Murnane’s Border Districts and Kim Scott’s Taboo.
When describing this year’s winning novel, the judges said The Life to Come is a powerful novel that effortlessly blends sharp satire of the literary world with deeply compassionate portraits of lonely people and their strategies for survival.
“Sentence-by-sentence, it is elegant, full of life and funny. With her characteristic wit and style, Michelle de Kretser dissects the way Australians see ourselves, and reflects on the ways other parts of the world see us,” said chair of the judging panel and State Library of NSW Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville.
Richard Neville was joined on the 2018 judging panel by The Australian journalist and columnist, Murray Waldren, Sydney bookseller Lindy Jones, book critic Dr Melinda Harvey and Emeritus Professor Susan Sheridan.
For more information about the Miles Franklin Literary Award, visit: www.milesfranklin.com.au for details.
Image: Michelle de Kretser – photo by Peter Marko