Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 28, 2012

2012 Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist

Miles Franklin c1940 (Source: Wikipedia)

The 2012 Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist has been announced.

(Update: The 5 shortlisted titles are in bold.)

In a brave move, the judges have longlisted 13 titles, which meant they couldn’t achieve gender balance!

The links under each author’s name goes to their profile on Meet an Aussie Author.

Blood by Tony Birch, see my review.
Spirit of Progress by Steven Carroll, see my review and a Sensational Snippet
Spirit House by Mark Dapin, see my review, and a Sensational Snippet
The Precipice by Virginia Duigan, see my review
All That I Am by Anna Funder, see my review and a Sensational Snippet
Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville, see my review
Five Bells by Gail Jones, see Kim’s review at Reading Matters and one from Kevin from Canada.
Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears, see my review
Autumn Laing by Alex Miller, see my review
Cold Light  by Frank Moorhouse, see my review
Past the Shallows  by Favel Parrett, see my review
The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman, see my review
Animal People by Charlotte Wood, see my review

Congratulations to all the authors and publishers!

PS Here’s the link to the judges’ announcement. The shortlist will be announced on May 3, and the winner on 20 June in Brisbane.

Blood Spirit of Progress Spirit House The Precipice All That I AmSarah ThornhillFive BellsFoal's BreadAutumn LaingCold LightPast the ShallowsThe Street Sweeper Animal People


  1. More women than men – talk about bowing to peer pressure ;)

    And I guess the answer to how Australian books need to be is ‘not very much’ if the inclusion of ‘All That I Am’ and ‘The Street Sweeper’ is anything to go by…


    • I wonder if the number of women is designed to short-circuit the Stella Prize’s momentum?

      Or maybe I’m just too cynical. All the books on there seem solid.


  2. Well, we’ll see what happens when the shortlist comes out. My impression from previous years is that a few strays get onto the longlist but not onto the shortlist for the reason you say.
    Still, there’s a couple there that I must get round to reading…


  3. Those are the only two that surprise me. And not because I don’t think they deserve it – I just didn’t think they were “Australian” enough.

    Other than that, I find the whole list a bit boring. They’re all white. There’s only one independent publisher – and that’s UQP for Blood. It all just seems a bit meh to me.


    • Text is independent (Sarah Thornhill).
      I haven’t read most of them, but yes, it seems there’s nothing really edgy there…


      • Whoops. You’re right. A&U is, too. Maybe I meant small indies?

        And yes, I was surprised The Roving Party wasn’t in there, too.


        • Yes, it would have been nice to see some of the smaller presses acknowledged: Transit Lounge, Clouds of Magellan, Wakefield, UWA, Hybrid etc.
          That reminds me that Alex Skovron wrote a novella that might have been a contender, it’s called The Poet (Hybrid). But I’m not sure when it came out, it might not have been eligible for this year’s award.
          I find it hard to keep track of what’s eligible in which year…


  4. (I typed a comment before, but it seems to have gone missing? Oh well, apologies if this is a duplicate.)

    I think “All That I Am” deserves to be on the list because of the sumptuous and beautiful descriptions of Sydney alone. (I’m still trying to work out how “Parrot and Olivier” got on the shortlist last year. That has to win some sort of “most tenuous link to Australia in literature” ever award.)

    I’m laughing at your gender equality comment, Lisa!


    • Hi Tania, your other comment was there, waiting in the moderation queue. (WordPress seems to be over-riding my comment-moderation settings lately, a little gremlin they will no doubt sort out eventually).
      Oh yes, P& O was a ridiculous inclusion.
      And look, I loved The Street Sweeper, but I think the eligibility is a bit tenuous too. Racking my brains because it was a long book and it’s over a month since I read it, all I can remember is that there was a lawyer who had an Australian childhood but went to live in the US. If I recall correctly, the childhood segments consisted of conversations that had with his father. I suppose that technically qualifies as an aspect of Australian life in all its phases. As does All That I Am, if descriptions of Sydney count. But it’s not IMO in the spirit of the award. It’s not Australian in its preoccupations, issues or sensibility, as say, Candice Bruce’s The Longing is. I think that would be eligible next year, and I’d be rather surprised if it weren’t shortlisted because it’s very good.
      I’m surprised that The Roving Party wasn’t included.


  5. This actually looks like an interesting list… and, as ever, I’m delighted to see Gail Jones on it. Five Bells deserves more attention.

    I’ve read Foal’s Bread and Sarah Thornhill, and enjoyed them both. I also have the Miller and the Eliott in my TBR — must dust them both off for a read.


    • Now where’s the link to your Five Bells review, Kim? I’m not a fan of Gail Jones, I’ve read two of hers and not liked either so I’m unlikely to read this one. But I know many people love her work so I’d like to have a link to a nice review for her…


      • I have a sneaking suspicion I’ve given you this link before — It was definitely one of my reading highlights of 2011.

        Am interested in knowing which books you’ve read? I’ve read three of her novels — loved Five Bells (very literary but accessible), didn’t think much of Sorry (too dry and disjointed) and adored Sixty Lights (very Dickensian and perfectly captures the displacements of being an antipodean in London).


        • You have, you did, but could I find the link? So thank you, I’ll add it above. You are my Authority on Gail Jones LOL.
          I read Sorry and Sixty Lights because they were book group choices – so it’s not as if I haven’t give them a fair go, or as if others haven’t tried valiantly to convince me of their merits. I just don’t like that kind of heavy-duty lyricism dripping with symbolism which was much in vogue in Australlian literary fiction for a while, churned out by creative writing schools from one side of the country to the other.
          I know I am alone in the universe with this heretical opinion, Jones is a Big Deal in Australian Letters and it’s like not liking Helen Garner, it puts me beyond the pale in the tight-knit world of Australian criticism.


          • Hehe. I know what you mean about the “heavy-duty lyricism dripping with symbolism” but that’s exactly what I like about it, probably because I don’t read any other kinds of novels in which that’s a characteristic. So, when I do read Jones, I quite like it because it’s a change from the usual stuff I read.


            • So maybe if I leave it for a suitable length of time (five years?) I will come to appreciate it too…


              • LOL! (Thanks for the link, BTW)


  6. I think it is a very good list. I have read most and would recommend them all. I think it will be a very hard decision. However if I had to put my money on it I would pick either Autumn Laing or The Street Sweeper. Though Five Bells could surprise all.



    • I do like the sound of Autumn Laing. But I want to read Cold Light too, I bought it as soon as it came out because I’ve read the first two in the trilogy and really liked them.
      And Steven Carroll, well, I loved his Glenroy trilogy so I’m expecting to love Spirit of Progress too (I bought that as soon as it came out too.)


  7. You won’t be disappointed with Stephen Carroll’s Spirit of Progress. The title is fitting, and so is the story. I am not a fan of Frank Moorhouse, and yet to read Cold Light. I never used to be a fan of Gail Jones, but Five Bells is a terrific read. It relates so well to people and Sydney.


  8. Tony Birch is not ‘white’ and his book has edge. Just wanted to correct the previous comments. And you should put it on your TBR list! It’s a quick read, but very powerful. Also, re small publishers. Agents tend to pitch to the big publishers first – unless there’s a particular reason a tiny house would be a better fit – so it might simply be about the quality of the book. The big publishers get to see more of the better books. That’s all.


    • Bec, you may not have seen a conversation between Tony and me a little while ago where we were bemoaning the lack of alternative voices in Australian literature. (This conversation might even have been privately via email, I can’t remember, maybe Tony can?). We were wondering why in a multicultural society like ours, we don’t see novels either in English or in translation written by our newest citizens, many of whom are well-educated and sophisticated people. The only one I know of is Ouyang Yu, but I would like to hear about others. Why isn’t there an Australian Kite Runner, for example? Why isn’t there a novel about coming out from under the burqa? Or one by a Chinese writer about having that longed-for second child?
      And by ‘edgy’ we didn’t mean grungy. We meant experimental in style or form. I myself am not fond of grunge. It has to be a very good book indeed to overcome my dislike of the style.


  9. […] of Progress, a self-contained prequel to his acclaimed ‘Glenroy’ trilogy [1], is longlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin award.  In the aftermath of WW2, we once again meet Vic and Rita, this time on the cusp of parenthood […]


  10. […] of Progress, a self-contained prequel to his acclaimed ‘Glenroy’ trilogy [1], is longlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin award.  In the aftermath of WW2, we once again meet Vic and Rita, this time on the cusp of parenthood […]


  11. […] of Progress, a self-contained prequel to his acclaimed ‘Glenroy’ trilogy [1], is longlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin award.  In the aftermath of WW2, we once again meet Vic and Rita, this time on the cusp of parenthood […]


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: