Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 23, 2015

2015 Miles Franklin winner

Some time ago, I set myself the goal of collecting and reading all of the Miles Franklin winners.  But I stopped collecting when publishers stopped publishing major authors like Alex Miller in hardback, and the quest to read them all is faltering because the award has been given two years in a row to books I tried and abandoned as of no interest to me.

If you are interested in what the judges have described as “raw, high-energy and coruscating language” about domestic violence, this year’s MF winner, The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna is for you.  I’m no Pollyanna but gritty Australian realism in books and film bores me unless it’s got something else to offer as well, and I abandoned this book as dreary and unreadable.

This is what I wrote at Goodreads back in September last year.  I didn’t review it here because I didn’t finish it.

Groan… not another Australian novel about a dysfunctional family.
No thanks, not another achingly sad child narrator with an intellectual disability.
I’ve read 50 pages, I’ve given it a go, but I could not muster a shred of interest in this.
Enough said. I see from other reviews here that plenty of readers think it’s wonderful, so I shall say no more and move onto my next book.

Yes, once again my opinion of the Miles Franklin winner is once again so different to that of the judges, my advice is for you never to be influenced by me in any gambling you might undertake.

As you know if you read my reviews, I thought highly of two on the shortlist: The Golden Age by Joan London, (see my review and a Sensational Snippet) and After Darkness by Christine Piper, (see my review).  Tree Palace by Craig Sherborne remains on my wishlist.

Moving on….

 


Responses

  1. I never pay that much attention to all these prizes and awards. It just doesn’t mean that much to me that a few judges like a certain book, song or film. The publishers appear to like them though.

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    • Well, they certainly can be a bit hit-and-miss, IMO. I’ve discovered some wonderful books through prizes like the MF, the Booker, the Man Asian and the International Foreign Fiction Prize. But likewise, some of them have been ….um.. disappointing, to say the least, and some prizes that are agenda-driven can actually put me off reading a book. These days, I rely more on the recommendations of my favourite bloggers and friends at Goodreads than I do on prizes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Now, Lisa, I wish you’d tell us what you’re really thinking! ;-)

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  3. I actually like the sound of this one! Sadly I relate to dysfunctional families far too easily :-(

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  4. Dysfunction in families is just part of the wallpaper. Something else has to be going on, which is what classics do. Couldn’t agree more.

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    • Hello:) I think you will like my next review … I’ve almost finished Babbitt (1922) by Sinclair Lewis, and like The Pumpkin Eater (which was the book I’ve just reviewed here) it features a dead marriage but there is so much more going on, it’s really brilliant to read.

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  5. Good on you for being honest and not jumping on the bandwagon. I just read the promo describing it as ‘a mixture of the brutality … and the pain … The Eye of the Sheep will break your heart’. Well, I can read enough depressing true-life stories in the daily news. I prefer to read books that take me away from the grinding struggles that life can be … I also have this theory that anything that is extreme is somehow attractive to our society – extreme sports, food flavours, atrocities – perhaps we’ve forgotten the joys of the gentle and moderate.

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    • Anna, I think there is at the moment definitely an attraction towards grunge in the zeitgeist. It’s trendy (though that’s now an old-fashioned word) for middle-class people to admire tattoos, graffiti, ugly clothing, rap with hate-filled lyrics, and books and films about dysfunctional people, “giving a voice” to the underclass and the vulnerable etc. Perhaps it’s a way of pretending to care – there seems to be no sign that comfortable Australia has any intention of doing anything about restoring the egalitarianism that used to characterise our nation.
      (I bet if you asked any of the fans of the current flood of autism-related books if they were willing to pay a bit of extra tax to provide desperately needed early intervention programs and support in schools for autistic kids, the answer would be a not-even-embarrassed resounding No.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I beg to differ but then that is the nature of fiction – people react differently. I really enjoyed the book. I read several of the MF shortlist and this was the pick of the ones I read. I particularly enjoyed the child’s voice and perspective. Tree Palace was also very good.

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    • Hello Rob, and welcome:)
      I am happy to host differing opinions here, and I am pleased for you that your pick of the books was the winner. It’s always nice when that happens, I felt great when Questions of Travel won in 2013:)
      Yes, I must get to Tree Palace, but oh dear, the pile of books is taking over the library here!

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  7. Always good to hear your opinion, Lisa. I haven’t read this one, but it’s on my list (and a very long list it is)!
    I confess I had a chuckle over your comment about tattoos. I rather like them :-)

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    • I bet your list is even longer than mine! BTW Have you read Indelible Ink by Fiona McGregor? That’s about a woman (of a certain age) who decides to go for tattoos. A very interesting take on the topic, I thought.

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      • I’d say ours are pretty similar, Lisa :-)
        I haven’t read that one but I think I remember it had a very striking cover.

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        • It’s a very ‘Sydney’ novel. One that has lingered in the memory…

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I read all the books on the short list of the MF, and I did not envy the Judges. I thought all were very good reads. My heart went to Joan London’s book, but I am not disappointed that Eye of the Sheep won. I found it a difficult to get in at first but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

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  9. I am also a fan of Eye of the Sheep, I thought it was wonderful. I have also read The Golden Boys and After Darkness and I liked Eye of the Sheep most out of these three (although it is very hard to choose as they were all good).

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    • I would be hopeless as a prize judge, I think. I would have no problem reading all the books in time, but choosing a winner would be really difficult. I can’t even choose between my preferred two of the shortlist, After Darkness and The Golden Age!

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  10. Yup!!
    I’ve also preferred the shortlisted books in recent Booker & Bailey awards (as opposed to the winners).

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    • I’ve haven’t been keeping an eye on the Bailey, what won it this year? And which one did you prefer?

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  11. I share your reaction to the book – I didn’t even try to read it because I too am sick of this line of fiction. Like you, I really loved ‘The Golden Age’. I can’t help wondering if the fashion for books of this kind is somehow connected to the appetite for “true crime” which I’m told is one of the best-selling genres. Not that these books are about crimes (or not always) but they give the same sense of danger, the same “there but for the grace of God” feeling, and pity ifs a very powerful feeling.

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    • I hadn’t thought of that aspect of it, you could be right. (I loathe true crime as a genre, I think we obsess about crime in this country, at the expense of being informed about other things.)

      Liked by 1 person


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