The 2015 Miles Franklin longlist is one of the most exciting in recent memory, something of a changing of the guard on the Australian literary scene. A cavalcade of not just Australia’s finest writers, but also the nation’s freshest thinkers, find themselves competing for the $60,000 prize.
Debut authors Omar Musa, Suzanne McCourt and Vogel Award winner Christine Piper are joined by literary heavyweights Joan London and Sonya Hartnett, while Favel Parrett makes her second Miles Franklin longlist in as many books with the beautiful When The Night Comes.
Don’t miss the chance to grab a copy of these fantastic books and judge them for yourself.
by Elizabeth Harrower
Zoe Howard is seventeen when her brother, Russell, introduces her to Stephen Quayle. Aloof and harsh, Stephen is unlike anyone she has ever met, ‘a weird, irascible character out of some dense Russian novel’. His sister, Anna, is shy and thoughtful, ‘a little orphan’.
Zoe and Russell, Stephen and Anna: they may come from different social worlds but all four will spend their lives moving in and out of each other’s shadow.
Set amid the lush gardens and grand stone houses that line the north side of Sydney Harbour, In Certain Circles is an intense psychological drama about family and love, tyranny and freedom.
Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. She lived in Newcastle until her family moved back to Sydney when she was eleven.In 1951 Harrower travelled to London and began to write. Her first novel, Down In The City, was published there in 1957 and was followed by The Long Prospect a year later. In 1959 she returned to Sydney, where she worked in radio and then in publishing. Her third novel, The Catherine Wheel, appeared in 1960.Harrower published The Watch Tower in 1966. Four years later she finished a new novel, In Certain Circles, but withdrew it from publication at the last moment, in 1971. It remained unpublished until 2014. In Certain Circles is Harrower’s final completed novel, though in the 1970s and 1980s she continued to write short fiction. She is one of the most important postwar Australian writers – admired by many of her contemporaries, including Patrick White and Christina Stead. Her novels are now being acclaimed by a new generation of readers and writers. Elizabeth Harrower lives in Sydney.
by Sonya Hartnett
Sonya Hartnett’s third novel for adults is perfectly formed and utterly compelling, an unflinching and disquieting work from one of Australia’s finest writers.
Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to. But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.
Sonya Hartnett’s work has won numerous Australian and international literary prizes and has been published around the world. Uniquely, she is acclaimed for her stories for adults, young adults and children. Her accolades include the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Of A Boy), The Age Book of the Year (Of A Boy), the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (Thursday’s Child), the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for both Older and Younger Readers (Forest, The Silver Donkey, The Ghost’s Child, The Midnight Zoo and The Children of the King), the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (Surrender), shortlistings for the Miles Franklin Award (for both Of a Boy and Butterfly) and the CILP Carnegie Medal (The Midnight Zoo). Hartnett is also the first Australian recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (2008).
by Sofie Laguna
Ned was beside me, his messages running easily through him, with space between each one, coming through him like water. He was the go-between, going between the animal kingdom and this one. I watched the waves as they rolled and crashed towards us, one after another, never stopping, always changing. I knew what was making them come, I had been there and I would always know.
Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She more…
Sofie Laguna originally studied to be a lawyer, but after deciding law was not for her, she trained as an actor. Sofie is now an author, actor and playwright. Her books for young people have been named Honour Books and Notable Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards and have been shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Awards. She has been published in the US and the UK and in translation in Europe and Asia. Sofie’s first novel for adults, One Foot Wrong, was also published throughout Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom. Sofie has written the screenplay for the film of One Foot Wrong, scheduled for pre-production in 2014.
by Joan London
This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life. From one of Australia’s most loved novelists.
He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home.
It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a more…
Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, was published in 2001, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards. Joan London’s books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age (2014) is her third novel.
by Suzanne McCourt
From the headland, we look across to the lighthouse on Seal Island where Mr Hammett has to take the gas bottle to keep the light flashing at night. Aunt Cele says there is no land between us and the bottom of the world where everything is white ice and there are penguins as big as men, but I know this already because Dunc has told me.
Sylvie is five. It’s the 1950s and she lives in Burley Point, a fishing village south of the Coorong on Australia’s wild southern coast. She worships her older brother Dunc. She tries to make sense of her brooding mother, and her moody father who abandons the family to visit The Trollop, Layle Lewis, who lives across the lagoon.
It’s hard to keep secrets in a small town, but when Dunc goes missing, Sylvie is terrified that she is more…
Suzanne McCourt was born in Millicent, on the South Australian coast, and now lives in Melbourne. After a career in teaching, marketing, public relations and private employment, she came late to creative writing. Suzanne has won prizes for her short stories, and several of her poems trundle around Melbourne on trains as part of the Moving Galleries project. She is the author of two books: Old Dogs: Lessons in Loving and Ageing and The Lost Child.
by Omar Musa
In small town suburbia, three young men are ready to make their mark.
Solomon is all charisma, authority and charm, down for the moment but surely not out. His half-brother, Jimmy, bounces along in his wake, underestimated, waiting for his chance to announce himself. Aleks, their childhood friend, loves his mates, his family and his homeland, and would do anything for them. The question is, does he know where to draw the line?
Solomon, Jimmy and Aleks: way out on the more…
Omar Musa is a Malaysian-Australian rapper and poet from Queanbeyan, Australia. He is the former winner of the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. He has released three hip hop albums, two poetry books (including Parang), appeared on ABC’s Q&A and received a standing ovation at TEDx Sydney at the Sydney Opera House. He is currently working on a play, ‘Bonegatherer’, and his first book, Here Come the Dogs, will be published in August 2014.
by Favel Parrett
The hauntingly beautiful story of a young girl transformed by the power of kindness from award-winning author Favel Parrett.
Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything.
Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and life onboard. Like the more…
In 2011, Favel Parrett’s career was launched with the critically-acclaimed and award-winning debut Past the Shallows. A heart-breaking novel, it was sold internationally, shortlisted in the prestigious Miles Franklin Award and won the Dobbie Literary Award. Favel herself won the ABIA Newcomer of the Year Award in 2012.
by Christine Piper
It is early 1942 and Australia is in the midst of war.
While working at a Japanese hospital in the pearling port of Broome, Dr Ibaraki is arrested as an enemy alien and sent to Loveday internment camp in a remote corner of South Australia. There, he learns to live among a group of men who are divided by culture and allegiance. As tensions at the isolated camp escalate, the doctor’s long- held beliefs are thrown into question and he is forced to confront his dark past: the promise he made in Japan and its devastating consequences.
Christine Piper’s short fiction has been published in Seizure, SWAMP and Things That Are Found In Trees and Other Stories. She was the 2013 Alice Hayes writing fellow at Ragdale in the United States. Christine has studied creative writing at Macquarie University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Technology, Sydney, where she wrote a version of this novel as part of her doctoral degree. She has also worked as a magazine editor and writer for more than a decade. Both in South Korea in 1979 to an Australian father and a Japanese mother, Christine moved to Australia when she was one. She has previously taught English and studied Japanese in Japan, and currently lives in New York with her husband. Christine is also the 2014 recipient of the ABR Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay. The winner of The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Prize 2014. After Darkness is Christine Piper’s first novel. She was also shortlisted for the Readings New Australian Writing Award 2014.
by Craig Sherborne
They tried Mansfield but it was freezing and snowed and people like them don’t fit in because they don’t look prosperous. One time near Yellingbo they found a church no one prayed in and they lived there and for three weeks had stained glass for windows…They got chased out and went to Shepparton but Shane had a run-in and police said move.
Shane, Moira and Midge, along with young Zara and Rory, are ‘trants’—itinerants roaming the plains north-west of Melbourne in search of disused houses to sleep in, or to strip of heritage fittings when funds are low. When they find their Tree Palace outside Barleyville, things are looking up. At last, a place in which to settle down.
But Zara, fifteen, is pregnant and doesn’t want a child. She’d more…
Craig Sherborne’s memoir Hoi Polloi (2005) was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s and Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. The follow-up, Muck (2007), won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Non-fiction. Craig’s first novel, The Amateur Science of Love, won the Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Best Writing Award, and was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and a NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Craig has also written two volumes of poetry, Bullion (1995) and Necessary Evil (2005), and a verse drama, Look at Everything Twice for Me (1999). His writing has appeared in most of Australia’s literary journals and anthologies. He lives in Melbourne.
by Inga Simpson
Once an artist and teacher, Jen now spends her time watching the birds around her house and tending her lush sub-tropical garden near the small town where she grew up. The only person she sees regularly is Henry, who comes after school for drawing lessons. When a girl in Henry’s class goes missing, Jen is pulled back into the depths of her own past.
When she was Henry’s age she lost her father and her best friend Michael – both within a week. The whole town talked about it then, and now, nearly forty years later, they’re talking about it again. Everyone is waiting – for the girl to be found and the summer rain to arrive. At last, when the answers do come, like the wet, it is in a drenching, revitalising downpour.
Inga Simpson is a fresh new voice in Australian writing. She is inspired by regular people and the changing seasons of their lives. Inga began her career as a professional writer for government before gaining a PhD in creative writing. In 2011, she took part in the Queensland Writer’s Centre Manuscript Development Program and as a result, Hachette published her first novel, the acclaimed Mr Wigg, in 2013.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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