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Miles Franklin Literary Award (1957-)
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
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History

Established in 1957, the Miles Franklin Literary Award is an annual literary prize awarded to 'a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases'.

The award was established after the death of the Australian writer Stella Miles Franklin, author of My Brilliant Career and other works. Franklin's will provided for the establishment of this award which she hoped would help foster the ‘advancement, improvement and betterment of Australian Literature.’

The Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund is a long-time supporter of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, providing $5000 to each finalist and more than half a million dollars to the prize since 2004.

Read more about the award and its history at the Miles Franklin Literary Award website.

Source: http://www.milesfranklin.com.au/ Sighted:15/11/2013

Notes

  • The Miles Franklin Literary Award is made annually from the estate of Miles Franklin for a published novel portraying some aspects of Australian life. (In 1988 the date of award changed from year of publication to year of award, thus there is no award for the year 1988.)

    In 2004 first prize has been increased to $42,000.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

And bookseller Lindy Jones.
winner y separately published work icon The Labyrinth Amanda Lohrey , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2020 19549542 2020 single work novel

'Erica Marsden’s son, an artist, has been imprisoned for homicidal negligence. In a state of grief, Erica cuts off all ties to family and friends, and retreats to a quiet hamlet on the south-east coast near the prison where he is serving his sentence.

'There, in a rundown shack, she obsesses over creating a labyrinth by the ocean. To build it—to find a way out of her quandary—Erica will need the help of strangers. And that will require her to trust, and to reckon with her past.

'The Labyrinth is a hypnotic story of guilt and denial, of the fraught relationship between parents and children, that is also a meditation on how art can both be ruthlessly destructive and restore sanity. It shows Amanda Lohrey to be at the peak of her powers.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon The Yield Tara June Winch , Melbourne : Hamish Hamilton , 2019 15449866 2019 single work novel

'After a decade in Europe August Gondiwindi returns to Australia for the funeral of her much-loved grandfather, Albert, at Prosperous House, her only real home and also a place of great grief and devastation.

'Leading up to his death Poppy Gondiwindi has been compiling a dictionary of the language he was forbidden from speaking after being sent to Prosperous House as a child. Poppy was the family storyteller and August is desperate to find the precious book that he had spent his last energies compiling.

'The Yield also tells the story of Reverend Greenleaf, who recalls founding the first mission at Prosperous House and recording the language of the first residents, before being interred as an enemy of the people, being German, during the First World War.

'The Yield, in exquisite prose, carefully and delicately wrestles with questions of environmental degradation, pre-white contact agriculture, theft of language and culture, water, religion and consumption within the realm of a family mourning the death of a beloved man.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon Too Much Lip Melissa Lucashenko , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2018 14069794 2018 single work novel

'Too much lip, her old problem from way back. And the older she got, the harder it seemed to get to swallow her opinions. The avalanche of bullshit in the world would drown her if she let it; the least she could do was raise her voice in anger.

'Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley.

'Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble – but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name.

'Gritty and darkly hilarious, Too Much Lip offers redemption and forgiveness where none seems possible.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon The Life to Come Michelle De Kretser , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2017 11460446 2017 single work novel

'Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don't tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.

'Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.

'Profoundly moving as well as bitingly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present.' (Synopsis)

Year: 2017

winner y separately published work icon Extinctions Josephine Wilson , Crawley : UWA Publishing , 2016 9145761 2016 single work novel

'He hated the word ‘retirement’, but not as much as he hated the word ‘village’, as if ageing made you a peasant or a fool. Herein lives the village idiot.

'Professor Frederick Lothian, retired engineer, world expert on concrete and connoisseur of modernist design, has quarantined himself from life by moving to a retirement village. His wife, Martha, is dead and his two adult children are lost to him in their own ways. Surrounded and obstructed by the debris of his life – objects he has collected over many years and tells himself he is keeping for his daughter – he is determined to be miserable, but is tired of his existence and of the life he has chosen.

'When a series of unfortunate incidents forces him and his neighbour, Jan, together, he begins to realise the damage done by the accumulation of a lifetime’s secrets and lies, and to comprehend his own shortcomings. Finally, Frederick Lothian has the opportunity to build something meaningful for the ones he loves.

'Humorous, poignant and galvanising by turns, Extinctions is a novel about all kinds of extinction – natural, racial, national and personal – and what we can do to prevent them.' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Plagiarism, John Hughes’ The Dogs and the Ethical Responsibilities of the Novelist Alyson Miller , 2022 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 21 June 2022;

'John Hughes’s novel The Dogs has been withdrawn from the longlist for the Miles Franklin Prize after an investigation by The Guardian identified numerous instances of plagiarism. Hughes’s lifting of passages from other books has sparked furious debate and literary detective work – mostly on Twitter – prompting questions about the nature of influences, literary pastiche and the attribution of sources in novels.' (Introduction)

‘One Publisher Called My Book Repellent’ : The First Self-published Author up for the Miles Franklin Beejay Silcox , 2022 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 21 June 2022;
'Michael Winkler’s Grimmish has been embraced by judges of the $60,000 prize – and by readers, whose support has been ‘truly astonishing’'
In The Garden with Amanda Lohrey Oliver Mol (interviewer), 2021 single work interview
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , November 2021;

'Every so often, and usually when the novice writer needs them most, a writer of immense stature, a writer who has written and published and continued to write and publish, impressively, joyfully, doggedly, over the course of forty years and seven books, a writer whose work has been long listed for the Miles Franklin three times and shortlisted twice before finally and deservedly winning the 2021 award for The Labyrinth, very occasionally, a writer like this, a writer named Amanda Lohrey will reach out to the inexperienced writer at the beginning of their career and say something kind. They will say that they like the work or they will recommend places to submit writing or books to read. More than anything, however, they will tell a writer to hold their nerve. They will tell them that writing is hard, that it takes discipline, that writing, true writing, is a practice. And though, I suspect, Amanda will frown, or perhaps laugh, at this backstory – for I know, at least in the literature she writes and reads, Amanda frowns, and sometimes laughs, at backstories – it cannot be underestimated how important these words have been.' (Introduction)

The Miles Franklin Shortlist : Our View Geordie Williamson , 2021 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 26 June 2021; (p. 14)

'Elegant, urgent and angry: Geordie Williamson reviews the six titles vying for our most prestigious literary prize'

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