Source : The Guardian
Judges laud six authors vying for $60,000 prize, including Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Melissa Lucashenko and Rodney Hall
From an unsettling, dystopian vision of the ocean’s future to a tale of Muslim youth in western Sydney, judges for the 2019 Miles Franklin literary award said its shortlist speaks to the diversity of Australian experience and imagination.
The six authors shortlisted for the $60,000 prize were announced on Tuesday. They include Miles Franklin veterans Rodney Hall, Gail Jones and previous longlistee Melissa Lucashenko, alongside Gregory Day, Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Jennifer Mills.
Judge Bernadette Brennan said this year’s authors were “unafraid to take risks” in their narratives, which addressed “complex, disparate and urgent aspects of contemporary Australian life”.
First awarded in 1957, the Miles Franklin is given to a novel judged of highest literary merit that presents an aspect of Australian life.
Hall may be in line for his third Miles Franklin with A Stolen Season, a novel comprised of three apparently unrelated but interwoven stories, the main thread of which follows an Iraq war veteran, returned after reconstructive surgery to the care of his estranged wife.
Hall, 83, won the award in 1982 for Just Relations, and again in 1994 for The Grisly Wife. He has published 14 novels over the course of his literary career and 15 books of poetry.
Gail Jones’s The Death of Noah Glass follows the two children of a dead art historian trying to come to terms with their father’s mysterious death, and the cloud of suspicion hanging over him as the police investigate an art theft they believe he committed.
The Death of Noah Glass was longlisted for the 2019 Stella prize. Jones has been previously shortlisted three times for the Miles Franklin – for Sixty Lights (2005), Dreams of Speaking (2007) and Sorry (2008) – and longlisted once, for Five Bells (2012). She has never won the prize.
Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip is a darkly comic novel about family, country and one woman’s last-ditch journey on a Harley to her home town before her father dies and she ends up in prison. Lucashenko was longlisted for the Miles Franklin in 2014 for Mullumbimby.
Too Much Lip has been highly acclaimed since its release, being shortlisted for the Stella prize, the Victorian and NSW Premiers’ literary awards, and the Australian Book Industry awards.
In first-time nominee Jennifer Mills’s Dyschronia, the residents of Clapstone, a small Australian coastal town, wake up to find the ocean has disappeared. Sam, one of the residents, has seen something like this before – in a vision. Whether or not she is lying, or what her visions portend, is one of the chief concerns of Mills’s speculative fiction.
The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad, meanwhile, takes readers to Punchbowl in Sydney’s west and that suburb’s high school, which functions less like a school than a prison, about which tabloid speculation reigns and everyone inside the locked gates knows their position in the social order. The Lebs won the multicultural award at the 2019 NSW premier’s literary awards.
Gregory Day’s A Sand Archive follows a writer who stumbles upon an old book detailing an engineer’s efforts to help stabilise the sand dunes along the Great Ocean Road during its construction. Two parallel stories – the engineer’s and the writer’s – mirror each other as the novel progresses.
Each shortlisted writer will receive prize money of $5,000. The winner of the $60,000 prize will be announced on 30 July.
The 2019 Miles Franklin shortlist
- The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad (Hachette Australia)
- A Sand Archive by Gregory Day (Picador Australia)
- A Stolen Season by Rodney Hall (Picador Australia)
- The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones (Text Publishing)
- Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko (University of Queensland Press)
- Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills (Picador Australia)