One of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious prizes for writing, the Miles Franklin Literary Award had its 2018 longlist announced this morning. There are eleven authors on this year’s longlist, five men and six women. The list includes previous winners Peter Carey (A Long Way From Home), Michelle de Kretser (The Life to Come) and Kim Scott (Taboo).
The longlist also includes Gerald Murnane for his book Border Districts. Murnane has enjoyed a surge in interest after the New York Times article Is the Next Nobel Laureate in Literature Tending Bar in a Dusty Australian Town? thrust him into the public eye. Border Districts was written after the author’s relocation from Melbourne to a remote town on the South Australian Border and explores the experiences of a narrator who makes a similar move to a fringe community, where he intends to spend the final years of his life.
“The longlist for the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2018 spans many genres of the novel: historical, fantastical, realist, satirical, allegorical and autobiographical,” said Richard Neville, head of the awards judging panel. “Whether dealing with disconnection, dispossession, the many varieties of grief and its resolutions, the violence done to those close or those unknown, or the deeper questions of existence, the eleven longlisted novels engage and reward the reader.”
Last year’s $60,000 prize was awarded to the Perth writer Josephine Wilson for her novel Extinctions. Other previous winners include A.S. Patric, Sophie Laguna, Anna Funder, Peter Temple, Tim Winton, Alexis Wright, Frank Moorhouse, Rodney Hall, David Malouf, Ruth Park and Patrick White.
Check out the full 2018 longlist here or scroll down to look at the longlist for the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award:
2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist
Peter Carey has twice won the Booker Prize for his explorations of Australian history. A Long Way from Home is his late-style masterpiece.
Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in western Victoria. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the ancient continent over roads no car will ever quite survive.
With them is their lanky fair-haired navigator, Willie Bachhuber, a quiz show champion and failed schoolteacher whose job it is to call out the turns, the grids, the creek crossings on a map that will finally remove them, without warning, from the lily-white Australia they know so well.
This thrilling, high-speed story starts in one way and then takes you someplace else. Read more.
We book fanatics talk excessively about the power of fiction to open our eyes to the world we live in – to inspire that change in our lives that self-help gurus keep telling us about. Read, we say. Read and become a better human. This is an aphorism I’ve willingly accepted, but it’s been months, perhaps even years, since I’ve felt the transformation happen in such an immediate and indisputable way.
Since reading The Life to Come I’ve started to see Sydney in a whole new light. The city is no longer just a destination for me, it’s also a waypoint. The poky and quirky suburbs I inhabit are not just made up of homes, roads and railway stations, but can now be seen as a kind of strange dream, something less tangible than I once thought. Read Ben’s full review here.
From the Wreck tells the remarkable story of George Hills, who survived the sinking of the steamship Admella off the South Australian coast in 1859.
Haunted by his memories and the disappearance of a fellow survivor, George’s fractured life is intertwined with that of a woman from another dimension, seeking refuge on Earth. This is a novel imbued with beauty and feeling, filled both with existential loneliness and a deep awareness that all life is interdependent.
The settlement of Wahrheit, founded in exile to await the return of the Messiah, has been waiting longer than expected. Pastor Helfgott has begun to feel the subtle fraying of the community’s faith.
Then Matthias Orion shoots his wife and himself, on the very day their son Benedict returns home from boarding school.
Benedict is unmoored by shock, severed from his past and his future. Unable to be inside the house, unable to speak, he moves into the barn with the horses and chooks, relying on the animals’ strength and the rhythm of the working day to hold his shattered self together.
The pastor watches over Benedict through the year of his crazy grief: man and boy growing, each according to his own capacity, as they come to terms with the unknowable past and the frailties of being human. Read more.
From Kim Scott, two-times winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, comes a work charged with ambition and poetry, in equal parts brutal, mysterious and idealistic, about a young woman cast into a drama that has been playing for over two hundred years.
Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar’s descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife’s dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations. Read more.
It begins with the normally healthy Beth – aged-care worker, wife of David, mother of Lettie and Gem – feeling vaguely off-colour. A locum sends her to Dr Yi for some tests. ‘There are a few things here that aren’t quite right,’ says Dr Yi, ‘and sometimes it is these little wrongnesses that can lead us to the bigger wrongs that matter.’
Beth is sent on to Dr Twoomey for more tests. Then to another specialist, and anotheraReferral after referral sees her bumped from suburb to suburb, bewildered, joining busloads of people all clutching white envelopes and hoping for answers.
But what is actually wrong with Beth – is anything, in fact, wrong with her? And what strange forces are at work in the system? As the novel reaches its stunning climax, we realise how strange these forces are. Read more.
An extraordinary literary novel set in Newcastle in 1989, about the devastating fault lines that can run in families.
After a year apart, Maryanne returns to her husband, Roy, bringing their eight-year-old son Daniel and his teenage sister Freya with her. The family move from Sydney to Newcastle, where Roy has bought a derelict house on the coast. As Roy painstakingly patches the holes in the floorboards and plasters over cracks in the walls, Maryanne believes, for a while, that they can rebuild a life together.
But Freya doesn’t want a fresh start – she just wants out – and Daniel drifts around the sprawling, run-down house in a dream, infuriating his father, who soon forgets the promises he has made. Read more.
A new work by a master of contemporary Australian fiction, highly regarded overseas, but little-known here. Giramondo’s publication of Border Districts, and the retrospective volume Collected Short Fiction (early next year) is a collaboration with the distinguished New York publisher Farrar Straus Giroux.
Conceived as Gerald Murnane’s last work of fiction, Border Districts was written after the author moved from Melbourne to a small town on the western edge of the Wimmera plains, near the border with South Australia. The narrator of this fiction has made a similar move, from a capital city to a remote town in the border country, where he intends to spend the last years of his life. It is a time for exploring the enduring elements of his experience, as these exist in his mind, images whose persistence is assured, but whose significance needs to be rediscovered. Read more.
New novel by Felicity Castagna, whose previous book, The Incredible Here and Now, won the 2015 Prime Ministers Award for Young Adult Fiction and was shortlisted for the CBCA and NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.
The subject is very topical. No More Boats tackles the fear of refugees head on, portraying the anxieties of a man who was once a migrant himself, brought to breaking point by the Tampa crisis, when the nation itself is thrown into a xenophobic frame of mind.
It is 2001. 438 refugees sit in a boat called Tampa off the shoreline of Australia while the TV and radio scream out that the country is being flooded, inundated, overrun by migrants. Read more.
A stunning literary debut that takes the reader into the mysteries and truths that lie at the heart of our country.
In the rear vision, the road was golden and straight and even, its length making sense of the sky, of the vast black cloud that was set to engulf it. I pulled over and got out. Stared at it, this gleaming snake – where I’d been, where it was going. The route that Jed had once taken.
After years of travelling, Saul is trying to settle down. But one night he receives the devastating news of the death of his oldest friend, Jed, recently returned from working in a remote Aboriginal community. Saul’s discovery in Jed’s belongings of a photo of a woman convinces him that she may hold the answers to Jed’s fate. Read more.
Set on the banks of Lake Illawarra and spanning four centuries, Storyland is a unique and compelling novel of people and place – which tells in essence the story of Australia. Told in an unfurling narrative of interlinking stories, in a style reminiscent of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, McKinnon weaves together the stories of Will Martin together with the stories of four others: a desperate ex-convict, Hawker, who commits an act of terrible brutality; Lola, who in 1900 runs a dairy farm on the Illawarra with her brother and sister, when they come under suspicion for a crime they did not commit; Bel, a young girl who goes on a rafting adventure with her friends in 1998 and is unexpectedly caught up in violent events; and in 2033, Nada, who sees her world start to crumble apart. Read more.
See the full 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist here.
About the Contributor
Ben is a bookseller at Booktopia HQ. He reads a lot and writes a little. Cows are his spirit animal. He is an optimist. He loves pastry.