Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 17, 2020

2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist

The shortlist for this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award was announced today.

The six shortlisted titles are…

Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian of the NSW State Library, and head of the judging panel, has characterised the shortlist as a feast for readers of TraumaLit:

‘The books on this year’s shortlist, diverse in form and tone, all explore the effects of trauma. From familial stories of neglect and abuse to the national story of racial and cultural dispossession, these novels demonstrate powerfully how past trauma continues to inform the present.’

Fortunately from my point of view, since I am not at all fond of TraumaLit, I think that Birch, Salom and Winch have transcended that characterisation.  (No one I know has reviewed the Frew.)  On the basis of the SRB review and a review from Kim at Reading Matters whose review is pending, I am mildly tempted to investigate No One next time I’m in a bookshop).

It’s #NoSurprise Gerald Murnane has been passed over again… an author widely touted as a potential winner of the Nobel Prize, and still the MF eludes him.


Responses

  1. Why Murnane is not in? I am very disappointed. Judges were too trendy, not giving chance to uniqueness.

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    • Well, exactly, this has been going on for years. He gets nominated, but he doesn’t ever stand a chance against The Issue of The Day novels.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve just read No one, Lisa, and I think you’d like it. It actually reminded me of Gerald Murnane in some respects – mainly the hypnotic prose style and his playfulness with the theme of memory. I was hoping to review it last night but I didn’t have the energy. I will try to post a review on the weekend.

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    • That’s a good recommendation, Kim, I was toying with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve just finished reading Islands by Peggy Frew and she truly is an amazing writer. She may well be the best Australian writer on descriptive detail, and she makes you work to follow the story because she moves from character to character and their respective backstories in an effective, but at times challenging way.

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    • Ah… Annette, I need a review of this book. I don’t get on with Frew, (it’s nothing personal of course, I just didn’t like the last book she had that was nominated for the MF), but I’m sure there must be many people like you, who like her work.
      Can I persuade you to write a guest review?

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      • Sorry, Lisa, but I’m in the middle of selling my house and moving, so all I can do at present is read!

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        • Oh, ouch, what a difficult time to be doing that!
          We look forward to hearing about it when you are all settled (by which I mean that the books are in their shelves, of course.)

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  4. I’m not familiar with the MF awards but grateful that I’ve a few titles and their reviews to check out. :)

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  5. I was sent Islands for review but have just never gotten around to reading it.

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    • Hmm *wicked grin* is that code for ‘it’s not really appealing’?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not necessarily, but it just didn’t grab me initially. I have read positive reviews though which has kept it on my shelves rather than being gifted on.

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        • Ah well, I wait to see what you think of it.
          I must say, there are some truly woeful blurbs these days, which are off-putting rather than enticing. It seems to me that they are written to a publicist’s script rather than evoking the content of the book, and the Frew blurb at Goodreads just tells me that it’s (yet another) dysfunctional family story.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, and I can take or leave dysfunctional family stories depending on my mood.

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            • There’s just so many of them I get sick of it unless there’s something distinctive about it (LOL as in Anna Karenina for example).

              Liked by 1 person

  6. I have read and reviewed ‘Islands’ but it looks like I didn’t put it on my blog. Weird. I’ll post it now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew I had read a review by someone I know!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I (sort of) know how that happens! I’m still reconstructing lost files and the one I’m working on is my NF TBR (Excel), which involves finding the book on my shelves and looking it up on Goodreads when I’m not sure whether I’ve read it, or finished reading it, or not. And I’ve found a few where I know I read it, but somehow didn’t review it. Which is not like me, because I “always” review everything I read.

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  7. Sounds as if to get onto the MF shortlist you have to write about whatever is the current PC topic – how disappointing. Truly creative and original writers won’t want to do this. I agree with you about Murnane – yet again overlooked.

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    • See, I think Indigenous writing shows the way. They have, from the moment of dispossession onwards, plenty of trauma to write about, but the best of them IMO have moved on from misery memoirs and TraumaLit to write innovative novels that educate non-Indigenous people while also telling an entertaining story. Off the cuff, I’m thinking of Anita Heiss’s historical novel Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms, Clare G Coleman’s speculative fiction Terra Nullius, A Most Peculiar Act by Marie Munkara and Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko. The value of these is that people want to read them just because they’re good stories, and people who’ve got no interest in educating themselves about Indigenous issues learn about them in spite of themselves.
      I’d love to see those books turned into films!

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    • Loved Too Much Lip, I grew up close by to such a family. I loved the earthy humour and the characters in this book were so well drawn.

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      • Hi Kathleen, thanks for joining the conversation:)
        Yes, I loved it too. I do hope she’s working on something new. I’m getting to that (totally unreasonable) stage when I think, so where’s the next one, I want more from this author!

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  8. Off topic sorry Lisa but have you heard the news that the fees for studying Humanities subjects at university are to at least double – meant to encourage people to only study for a job – why or why are Humanities subjects so devalued – who wants a world without literature, languages, philosophy, art, music – I despair of this country sometimes! What impact for writers and readers?

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    • I did hear that, and honestly I despair sometimes…
      It’s consistent with the way there was no COVID support for the arts sector too… let’s hope the other parties hold them to account over it.

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      • As people are now saying, it’s social engineering Lisa – and arts degrees are cheaper to teach than science degrees yet we are charging arts students more – & many students are not inclined to maths and science but are naturally more gifted at arts subjects. I despair at this too. Universities exist not just to train people for jobs but to provide an education!

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        • it’s ironic, isn’t it, that the PM made his slavery gaffe in the same week that they’ve sabotaged the kind of education he and his advisers so badly need…

          Like


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