The Miles Franklin Literary Award is Australia’s most prestigious literature prize, awarded each year to a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases. The 2016 Miles Franklin longlist has just been announced, and what we have is a cavalcade of not just Australia’s finest writers, but also the nation’s freshest thinkers.
Don’t miss your chance to grab a copy of these fantastic books and judge them for yourself!
by Tony Birch
You find yourself down at the bottom of the river, for some it’s time to give into her. But other times, young fellas like you two, you got to fight your way back. Show the river you got courage and is ready to live.’
The river is a place of history and secrets. For Ren and Sonny, two unlikely friends, it’s a place of freedom and adventure. For a group of storytelling vagrants, it’s a refuge. And for the isolated daughter of a cult reverend, it’s an escape.
Each time they visit, another secret slips into its ancient waters. But change and trouble are coming – to the river and to the lives of those who love it. Who will have the courage to fight and survive and what will be the cost?
About the author
Tony Birch is the author of Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and two short story collections, Father s Day and The Promise. Tony is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne and is a Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University.
by Stephen Daisley
Western Australia, the wheatbelt. Lew McLeod has been travelling and working with Painter Hayes since he was a boy. Shearing, charcoal burning – whatever comes. Painter made him his first pair of shoes. It’s a hard and uncertain life but it’s the only one he knows.
But Lew’s a grown man now. And with this latest job, shearing for John Drysdale and his daughter Clara, everything will change.
Stephen Daisley writes in lucid, rippling prose of how things work, and why; of the profound satisfaction in hard work done with care, of love and friendship and the damage that both contain.
About the Author
Stephen Daisley was born in 1955 and grew up in the North Island of New Zealand. He has worked on sheep and cattle stations, on oil and gas construction sites and as a truck driver, among many other jobs. Stephen’s first novel, Traitor, won the 2011 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction. He lives in Western Australia with his wife and five children.
by Peggy Frew
It is the winter of 1985. Hope Farm sticks out of the ragged landscape like a decaying tooth, its weatherboard walls sagging into the undergrowth. Silver’s mother, Ishtar, has fallen for the charismatic Miller, and the three of them have moved to the rural hippie commune to make a new start.
At Hope, Silver finds unexpected friendship and, at last, a place to call home. But it is also here that, at just thirteen, she is thrust into an unrelenting adult world — and the walls begin to come tumbling down, with deadly consequences.
Hope Farm is the masterful second novel from award-winning author Peggy Frew, and is a devastatingly beautiful story about the broken bonds of childhood, and the enduring cost of holding back the truth.
About the Author
Peggy Frew’s debut novel, House of Sticks, won the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. Her story Home Visit won The Age short story competition. She has been published in New Australian Stories 2, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue, and Meanjin. Peggy is also a member of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Melbourne band Art of Fighting.
by Myfanwy Jones
Joe lives-despite himself. Driven by the need to atone for the neglect of a single tragic summer’s night, he works at nothing jobs and, in his spare time, trains his body and mind to conquer the hostile environment that took his love and smashed up his future. So when a breathless girl turns up on the doorstep, why does he let her in? Isn’t he done with love and hope?
On the other side of the city, graphic designer Elise is watching her marriage bleed out. She retreats to the only place that holds any meaning for her – the tiger enclosure at the zoo – where, for reasons she barely understands, she starts to sketch the beautiful killers.
Leap is a beautiful urban fairytale about human and animal nature, and the transformative power of grief.
About the Author
Myfanwy Jones is the author of The Rainy Season, shortlisted for The Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Best Writing Award 2009, and co-author of the bestselling Parlour Games for Modern Families, Book of the Year for Older Children ABIA 2010. She lives by a creek in Melbourne with her human and non-human family.
The World Without Us
by Mireille Juchau
Told from the perspective of six, interconnected characters, The World Without Us is a tale of love in all its forms, a mystery and an elegy for a denatured landscape. It is about the ways we become lost to ourselves, and the transformative joys of being found.
After a fire destroys her family’s commune home, Evangeline is forced to start afresh in the north coast rainforest town with her child, and partner, Stefan Muller.
Years later, while tending the bees on their farm, Stefan discovers a car wreck, and not far off, human remains. While the locals speculate on who has gone missing from the transient hinterland town, Stefan’s daughters Tess and Meg, have a more urgent mystery. Where does their mother go each day, pushing an empty pram and returning wet, muddy and disheveled?
About the Author
Mireille Juchau is a Sydney-based writer of novels, short fiction, essays, scripts and reviews. The World Without Us is her third novel, and won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction. Her first, Machines for Feeling was shortlisted for the 1999 Vogel/Australian Literary Award and the second, Burning In, was published by Giramondo Publishing in 2007. It was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award 2008, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2008, the Age Book of the Year Award 2008 and the Nita B. Kibble Award 2008. She has a PhD in writing and literature and teaches at universities and in the community.
The Hands: An Australian Pastoral
by Stephen Orr
He didn’t look like he could jump a bull, but she knew he could. It was all in the hands, he’d often explain. The will. The bloody mindedness. On a cattle station that stretches beyond the horizon, seven people are trapped by their history and the need to make a living.
Trevor Wilkie, the good father, holds it all together, promising his sons a future he no longer believes in himself. The boys, free to roam the world’s biggest backyard, have nowhere to go.
Trevor’s father, Murray, is the keeper of stories and the holder of the deed. Murray has no intention of giving up what his forefathers created. But the drought is winning. The cattle are ribs. The bills keep coming. And one day, on the way to town, an accident changes everything.
About the Author
Stephen Orr is a teacher and freelance literary reviewer and columnist. He has worked as a writer-in-residence at secondary schools; given workshops on fictionwriting; judged writing awards; and was on the board of the SA Writers’ Centre 2004-2006. In January 2009, he completed a Varuna Longlines residency where he worked on his forthcoming novel God’s Hill Road.
Stephen’s first novel, Attempts to Draw Jesus (Allen & Unwin) was a runner-up in the 2000 Australian/Vogel Award. His second novel Hill of Grace was published by Wakefield Press in 2004. Time’s Long Ruin is Stephen’s third novel, and has been shortlisted for the South East Asia and Pacific Best Book Award in the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Stephen lives with his family in Adelaide.
Black Rock White City
by A.S. Patric
During a hot Melbourne summer Jovan’s cleaning work at a bayside hospital is disrupted by acts of graffiti and violence becoming increasingly malevolent. For Jovan the mysterious words that must be cleaned away dislodge the poetry of the past. He and his wife Suzana were forced to flee Sarajevo and the death of their children.
Intensely human, yet majestic in its moral vision, Black Rock White City is an essential story of Australia’s suburbs now, of displacement and immediate threat, and the unexpected responses of two refugees as they try to reclaim their dreams. It is a breathtaking roar of energy that explores the immigrant experience with ferocity, beauty and humour.
About the Author
A.S. Patrić is the award winning author of Las Vegas for Vegans, published in 2012 by Transit Lounge. Las Vegas for Vegans was shortlisted for the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards’ Steele Rudd Prize. He is also the author of Bruno Kramzer and The Rattler & other stories. Alec lives in bayside Melbourne and is a St Kilda bookseller.
by Lucy Treloar
Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch.
Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can: with the few travellers that pass along the nearby stock route – among them a young artist, Charles – and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Over the years that pass, and Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family.
Stanton’s attempts to tame the harsh landscape bring ruin to the Ngarrindjeri people’s homes and livelihoods, and unleash a chain of events that will tear the family asunder. As Hester witnesses the destruction of the Ngarrindjeri’s subtle culture and the ideals that her family once held so close, she begins to wonder what civilization is. Was it for this life and this world that she was educated?
About the Author
Lucy Treloar was born in Malaysia and educated in Melbourne, England and Sweden. A graduate of the University of Melbourne and RMIT, Lucy is a writer and editor and has plied her trades both in Australia and in Cambodia, where she lived for a number of years.
Lucy is the 2014 Regional Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. In 2012 she won the Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award for her first novel, The Things We Tell Ourselves, and went on to be awarded a Varuna Publisher Fellowship for the same work in 2013. In 2011 Lucy was the recipient of a mentorship through the Australian Society of Authors as well as an Asialink Writer’s Residency to Cambodia.
Her short fiction has appeared in Sleepers, Overland, Seizure, and Best Australian Stories 2013.
The Natural Way of Things
by Charlotte Wood
She hears her own thick voice deep inside her ears when she says, ‘I need to know where I am.’ The man stands there, tall and narrow, hand still on the door knob, surprised. He says, almost in sympathy, ‘Oh, sweetie. You need to know what you are.’
Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of a desert. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a ‘nurse’.
The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world?
Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue – but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves…
About the Author
Charlotte Wood is the author of five novels and a book of non-fiction, and editor of The Writer’s Room Interviews magazine. Her last novel, Animal People, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and her other books have been shortlisted for many prizes including the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction.
About the Contributor
Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.