Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 18, 2023

2023 Miles Franklin Longlist

The Miles Franklin 2023 longlist was announced last night.  But…

The gremlins got to me. I had almost finished my post about it when I must have refreshed the page somehow before I’d saved the draft and suddenly all my text and links and images were gone. I was so tired and cross with myself that I went to bed and read a book. (All for Nothing by Walter Kampowski translated by Andrea Bell, a book that couldn’t be better for putting a computer glitch into perspective.)

So here we are again, and I’m pleased to see that some of the books I liked and admired are included.

Kgshak Akec, Hopeless Kingdom (UWAP) (Winner of the 2021 Dorothy Hewett award and on my TBR, see the review at Westerly 

Robbie Arnott, Limberlost (Text) (see my review)

Jessica Au, Cold Enough for Snow (Giramondo) (see my review)

Shankari Chandran, Chai time at Cinnamon Gardens (Ultimo Press) (I abandoned it, but see Brona’s review)

Claire G Coleman, Enclave (Hachette) (see the review at The Guardian)

George Haddad, Losing Face (UQP) I abandoned this at 50 pages, sorry. See the review at The Guardian.

Pirooz Jafari, Forty nights (Ultimo Press) I heard about this book in an episode of Published or Not at 3CR and borrowed it from the library but didn’t have time to finish it. See the review at Readings.

Julie Janson, Madukka: The River Serpent (UWAP), a crime novel, on reserve at the library. See the review at the West Australian.

Yumna Kassab, The Lovers (Ultimo Press), see the review at Readings

Fiona Kelly McGregor, Iris (Pan Macmillan Australia) (see my review)

Adam Ouston, Waypoints (Puncher & Wattmann) (See my review)

I think the prize for the best cover goes to The Lovers! It’s beautiful, but I don’t have the book so I can’t tell you who the designer is.

The shortlist will be announced on 20th June, and the winner on 25th  July.

Congratulations to all the nominees, editors and publishers!

Update, later in the afternoon: I’ve finally been able to locate a link to the announcement at Perpetual. FWIW their website says that you can keep up-to-date with all the latest news via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but if Twitter is any guide, they haven’t gone out of their way to muster any enthusiasm for Australia’s most prestigious literary prize. There is one Tweet about the longlist (yesterday) and prior to that, nothing since October last year. Besides, who among us is willing to rely on algorithms to produce what’s wanted in a feed, eh?

There’s no option to sign up for the reliability and ease of use of an email announcement, and if I were a bookseller expected to stock these books, I’d be livid that there was no advance notice. It’s common practice for some of us to receive embargoed information about prizes so that we can be up-to-speed and give the nominees the prompt publicity they deserve.

Plus see my comment about accessibility for disabled readers below.

Perpetual, you need to do better.

In other news I am delighted to report that Cath Chidgey has won the Fiction Prize at the NZ Ockhams, for The Axeman’s Carnival and if I ever succeed in getting my hands on a copy (which #LongBoringStory I have been trying to do ever since it was released), I will read it and tell you why!  #FrustratedFrown I may have to resort to a Kindle Edition…


  1. I’ve read 3 of the books this year which is exciting. Really pleased to see Chai Time on the list too. It’s a year since I read it & I still think about the nursing home in particular.
    Akec’s book is the one I will look out for next.


    • I remember reading the blurb for Chai Time, and thinking how good it sounds, but having loved ones in aged care is still a bit raw for me so I didn’t follow it up.
      As it happens, there were quite a few residents from India at Arcare where my father was when I brought him down to in Melbourne, and we often had lunch together in the dining room. One of the ladies had a daughter who brought in cooked meals which smelled scrumptious, but they also aways had something Indian on the menu.
      Cultural awareness caught me out one day. One of the ladies was telling me that she had been a make-up artist in India, doing weddings, so #SmacksForehead, I said something like, Oh, how lovely to have a job as part of a happy day for everyone. Wrong, she said grimly, very often the brides were crying. Because they didn’t want to marry the man their parents had chosen…


      • Ooops!

        I should clarify that the second half of the book is quite different from the setting the scene that happens in the first. Once we get to know all the characters the local Western Sydney issues kick in. I do recommend it.


  2. I’ve read two which is an achievement for me. And I have another on the TBR.

    BTW I think it was announced yesterday morning with not much hoop-la. I saw it quite early in the day but didn’t get to my computer till later in the afternoon. I’d like to read Akec, Janson, among others – I think you liked Waypoints didn’t you?


    • Yes I did, but it’s probably too outré to win, MF judges are rather stuffy about experimental novels.

      It is odd that there’s been so little about it, *chuckle* maybe we are not keeping up with Insta and Tik Tok!


      • I’m not keeping up with anything, including my reading! So don’t ask me!

        I’m not sure that their current judges are stuffy – they are an interesting bunch – but perhaps they feel the weight of expectations? It is, after all, the MF!


        • They *are* stuffy. If they weren’t they’d have given the MF to Gerald Murnane at least once…


      • Just looking again at the Tweet from yesterday, there’s a bit of angst about its inaccessibility for disabled readers. See
        I think the complaints are justified. Even someone with good eyesight can’t read some of the titles in the cover images, and there’s no link to a text announcement. I reckon it’s a Fail for the publicist, whoever it is.
        (And I had trouble with reading the titles of the Ockham’s Twitter announcement too, which caused troubles of my own.)


  3. I love the cover of The Axeman’s Carnival!

    P.S. Losing a post after putting in links and pics is SO frustrating. Commiserations.


    • My own fault… I should walk away when I’m tired or under pressure.
      But thank you:)


  4. I don’t know. I can’t muster any enthusiasm for this prize. I can’t articulate why I’m so underwhelmed by this list. I’ve only read two off it (Arnottt and MacGregor) and have two more on my TBR (Colman and Janson). I have previously tried to read a couple of others and abandoned them. I would have liked to have seen “Hydra” and “Marlo” on this list.


    • Yes…
      I’m trying not to be so grouchy about prizes, so I didn’t include my usual ‘these are the ones that shoulda-been’ but yes, Marlo was a beautiful book and I really liked Hydra… I still think about it, you know, because it’s not a book that has a nice tidy arc that lets you think, ah, so that’s what she’s on about!
      I understand the fixation with diversity of authorship but I still think that the book’s intrinsic merit should be the most important criteria. I’d have liked to see these on the longlist because they were such terrific books that were all about more than the author’s identity:
      Sweeney and the Bicycles, by Philip Salom
      Salonika Burning, by Gail Jones
      Bad Art Mother, by Edwina Preston
      Other Houses, by Paddy O’Reilly.

      And my shortlist would be: Sweeney; Other Houses, Salonika Burning, Bad Art Mother and Limberlost.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I actually like to see The People’s Choice type of comments, those that should have been on a list, even if it’s subjective, especially because for most readers the gems are to be found on a long(er) list and their criteria is absolutely one of merit, whereas judges by their very process are going to travel down rabbit holes and through discussions and have more distance from the already digested book. 🤔

    Anyway, Limberlost I’m interested in and Cold Enough for Snow I actually have already.

    Quite often these prizes now are difficult to read about with their fast moving video presentations and websites where you have to click on each title or press releases that don’t include lists. It’s certainly time consuming to create a useful post, but I like a one page reference so for those I follow I persevere in creating something I can easily go back to.


    • I hate those sites where you have to click on every single book cover image to get the info. It’s an annoying new phenomenon with book festival programs too. I like to have a printout where The Spouse and I can circle the ones we want to attend and coordinate breaks to meet up for coffees and lunches. They’re not at all user friendly.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the cover of Jessica Au’s book. You can feel the cold. The geometric designs I find a bit boring and I never care for a book with a photo. I prefer illustrations.


    • There’s a lot of really boring derivative designs around but the ones that stand out are often really beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

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