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Imprints Booksellers - Friday, November 18, 2016







































Miles Franklin 2014 Shortlisted Titles

Imprints Booksellers - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Since 1957, the Miles Franklin Award has been presented annually to a novel which is". . . of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases." The prize's benefactor and namesake, Stella Miles Franklin, knew firsthand of the hardship experienced by writers trying to make a living from their art and it is a worthy testament to this most beloved literary heroine that we should continue to honour the best of Australian literature in her name.

The contenders for the 2014 Miles Franklin award have recently been announced and the resulting shortlist is an outstanding blend of the serious, the curious and the downright wonderful. It is always difficult to choose a favourite and this year is no exception, but we've compiled a brief guide to the current nominees which should help you read your way through this distinguished shortlist.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flangan

What the Judges say: With consummate artistry, Richard Flanagan turns this tale into a gripping saga that undercuts lest-we-forget sentimentality and explores for present and future readers just what it means to be human. The suffering that haunts our collective consciousness takes place here on a personal scale that is both appalling and unforgettable. Stripped of artifice and even of basic humanity, this is a picture we must all confront.

What we say: We know we're not supposed to have favourites - as booksellers, all novels are to be treated as our darling children and we should send them each out into the world with all the love and support we can muster. But if we had a favourite for the Miles Franklin Award this year - and I'm not saying we do - this might just be it. Plus Richard Flanagan is yet to be honoured with Australia's most prestigious literary award, despite his vast body of meritable works . . . Will 2014 be the year that rights this wrong?

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane

What the Judges say: . . . A beautifully assured debut novel about the mind games and deceptive fantasies of old age as well as a cleverly paced, psychological thriller. Written through Ruth's eyes, it is a first novel of astonishing subtlety, wit and maturity – a sophisticated work of high style and rich substance. 

What we say: For her debut novel to be shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award is a remarkable coup for this talented new novelist and a testament to McFarlane's fresh and engaging style. A profoundly moving novel about love, dependence, anxiety and ageing. 

My Beautiful Enemy by Cory Taylor

What the Judges say: In this highly accomplished novel, Cory Taylor delves deep into a twentieth-century Australian society that is both xenophobic and homophobic. Her memorable and engaging narrative draws the reader into this world with great compassion as Arthur struggles with his sexual identity, with how to love and at the same time be accepted by family and friends.

What we say: The honest, bold and confronting story of a love that could never be, Cory Taylor's latest offering is told with clear, lyrical prose and a deep affection for her characters. This is an important book for its  deft handling of the racial and sexual prejudices presented and the mirror it holds to contemporary Australian society.  

Eyrie by Tim Winton

What the Judges say: With only a small handful of pitch-perfect characters, this utterly engrossing and cinematic novelcaptures the milieu of contemporary Freo with faithful precision. Both the landscape and people-scape of this ‘theme park perched on a real estate bubble’ are lovingly explored, complete with Indian Ocean waterfront and sprawling strip of shops and cafes. Harnessing plenty of good humour, Tim Winton’s high energy, low-rent narrative grabs the reader from the opening paragraph and doesn’t let go.

What we say: You know how we said we don't have favourites? Well, this is another of our non-favourite nominees (wink wink). Winton has previously been awarded the Miles Franklin for Breath (2009), Dirt Music (2002), Cloudstreet (1992) and The Shallows (1984), joining only celebrated Australian author Thea Astley in being thusly honoured so many times. Winton has a knack of winning each time he is nominated - Will 2014 continue this streak?

The Swan Book by Alexis Wright

What the Judges Say: The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale, has Oblivia Ethylene in the company of amazing characters . . . The narrative voice that Alexis Wright has crafted can span the languages of opera and popular song as well as rendering the rhythms and idioms of Aboriginal English – a complex, allusive narrative of speaking, singing, mourning and cracking jokes. The result is unlike anything we have heard before in Australian literature.

What we say: Previously winning the Miles Franklin award for her powerful novel Carpentaria (2007), Alexis Wright has also been the recipient of a Queensland Premier's Literary Award (2007), the ALS Gold Medal (2007) and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction (2007) so she is no stranger to accolades. Her latest novel is a beautiful, dark and complex meditation on Australian and Indigenous culture in a changing environmental landscape. 

What the Judges say: Replete with adrenalin-fuelled escapades, Evie Wyld’s heart-stopping second novel opens with a mocking row of Hitchcockian crows as they strut and caw over one of Jake’s recently mutilated sheep. Exiled on a bleak and windy, rain-driven island at the end of the world, she finds herself with only her so-called Dog for company and then an enigmatic stranger who impinges on her solitude. Saturated with menace, the novel's upside-down pastoral elegy traces with great subtlety the alienation felt by this youthful outsider . . . With its stark poetry and beautifully assured voice, her story affirms that each and every creature on earth is subject to haphazardly inflicted cruelty and betrayal.
What we say: This curiously twisted psychological drama is the second novel by Evie Wyld, following up her celebrated debut, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice. The lush prose contrasts strikingly with the bleak and isolated landscape of the novel. Perhaps unusually for a novel of the 'literary' genre, the suspense in this never lets up and makes All the Birds, Singing a unique nominee amongst this year's Miles Franklin shortlist.
 
How many of the shortlisted titles have you read? Do you have a favourite? For an additional literary adventure, try joining in with the Miles Franklin Reading Challenge this year and read all six novels before the winner is announced on the 26th of June!  

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