The 2016 Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist

Miles Franklin Literary AwardEarlier today the longlist for this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award was announced. The prize is awarded each year to a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.

Unfortunately, because the new official website is so badly designed and so lacking in content I can’t tell you when the shortlist will be announced nor when the winner will be named. I can’t even tell you how much money the prize is worth to the winning author. I can, however, tell you who the sponsor* is, but I’ll be blowed if I’m going to give them a plug when the website doesn’t appear to have us readers in mind — it seems more concerned with promoting itself rather than the award and doesn’t even bother to name the publishers of each longlisted title.

Anyway, now that my rant is over, here are the books on the list in alphabetical order by author’s surname. Hyperlinks will take you to my review in full and I’ve included availability information for UK readers:

Ghost River by Tony Birch

Ghost River by Tony Birch (UQP)
‘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?
This book is available in the UK in paperback and ebook editions.

Coming Rain by Stephen Daisley

Coming Rain by Stephen Daisley (Text)
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.
This book is available in the UK in paperback and ebook editions.

Hope Farm by Peggy Frew

Hope Farm by Peggy Frew (Scribe)
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.
Published in the UK  in ebook and audio book. The paperback will be published on 9 June.

Leap by Myfanwy Jones

Leap by Myfanwy Jones (Allen & Unwin)
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.
Not available in the UK, but you can buy direct from the publisher.

The world without us by Mireille Juchau

The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau (Bloomsbury)
It has been six months since Tess Müller stopped speaking. Her silence is baffling to her parents, her teachers and her younger sister Meg, but the more urgent mystery for both girls is where their mother, Evangeline, goes each day, pushing an empty pram and returning home wet, muddy and dishevelled. Their father, Stefan, struggling with his own losses, tends to his apiary and tries to understand why his bees are disappearing. But after he discovers a car wreck and human remains on their farm, old secrets emerge to threaten the fragile family.
Published in the UK in hardcover and ebook.

The Hands by Stephen Orr

The Hands: An Australian Pastoral by Stephen Orr
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.
Not available in the UK, but you can buy direct from the publisher.

black-rock-white-city

Black Rock White City by A.S. Patrić (Transit Lounge)
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.
This book is available in the UK in ebook; the paperback edition can be purchased direct from the publisher.

Salt-creek

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar (Pan MacMillan Australia)
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?
Not available in the UK, but you can buy direct from the publisher.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)
Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage – a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted. 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.
Only published in Australia; due to be published in the UK on 2 June.

Note that Lisa Hill has a round-up post, including links to reviews, on her blog AnzLitLovers.

Have you read any of these books? Or have any piqued your interest?

* Update on 6 April: I now realise this isn’t the sponsor, but the trustee of the award, but my point about self-promotion still stands.

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15 thoughts on “The 2016 Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist

  1. I’ve resd The Hands and Ghost River both of which I really enjoyed. I’m hslf way through The Natural Way of Things now – I will reserve judgement on that until I’ve finished. I would eventually like to read them all but will realistically probably only read the shortlisted titles. Black Rock White City is one that stands out to me (but that might be because I read Lisa’s positive review of it last night. ☺)

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    • I’d like to read them all, too, but unfortunately can’t get all of them this side of the world. I’ve succumbed to the folly of buying an ebook from the Wakefield Press site (I really like the sound of The Hands), which means I’ll have to read it on my mini iPad (that I never use). And I agree, Black Rock White City sounds brilliant, thanks to Lisa’s review.

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  2. Thanks for linking up, Kim:)
    I’m interested to see Sharon ‘reserving judgement’ on The Natural Way of Things… I’ve written my review, but I’m not happy with it, and I’m mulling it over.

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    • I need to write mine very soon. I liked the book a lot; seems to have tapped into something that’s been bugging me for years. I get the impression you were less keen… Looking forward to seeing your review.

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    • Thanks, Karen. It just seems a little strange that basic info could be left out like this… some of us need to schedule our reading to make sure we read them all before the winner is named for instance! 😉

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  3. Hi Kim, ‘The Hands’ is available in the UK through the Book Depository and I suspect the same is true of all the other books listed. Thanks for linking to us though!

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    • Thanks, Ayesha, I bought an ebook from your site, which I’m delighted about. Not all of these books are available from the Book Depository — or they certainly weren’t when I checked at about 6am GMT yesterday. But I’d rather support publishers directly anyway than promote the Book Depository, which is owned by Amazon, a company that doesn’t pay its fair share of tax in the UK.

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  4. The World Without Us looks interesting. I have Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things on my shelf ready to read…

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  5. Pingback: ‘The Natural Way of Things’ by Charlotte Wood | Reading Matters

  6. Pingback: ‘The Hands: An Australian Pastoral’ by Stephen Orr | Reading Matters

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