Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2011 Miles Franklin shortlist announced

Bookseller & Publisher

The shortlisted titles are:

A complete list of the titles longlisted for this year's award can be seen here.
The winner of this year's award will be announced at a special event at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne on 22 June.
The judging panel described this year's shortlisted titles as having 'a distinctive, indelible Australian voice'.
'It's a voice that has nothing to do with reflex nationalism, or jingoism--rather the reverse,' said the judges. 'The shortlisted books this year are like barometers of the state of our culture: they take the readings, and give them back to us in fiction of extraordinary accomplishment. They force us to look again at ourselves, and to think--hard.'

The judges described McDonald's When Colts Ran as 'an epic tale', saying that McDonald 'works on a grand scale and with a lyric intensity that makes his every sentence arresting'.
'When Colts Ran, with its cavalcade of flawed, rough cut Australian characters, illustrates poignantly the way the optimism and confidence of rural Australia in the middle of the twentieth centrury slipped away and how family experience, class and social expectation shaped communities,' said the judges. 'McDonald evokes that world with an inwardness and poetic verve that is extraordinary'.

The judges said That Deadman Dance by Scott is 'a powerful and innovative fiction that shifts our sense of what an historical novel can achieve'. The book is 'alive in the spaces' between the Indigenous and settler worlds of the early nineteenth century and 'its narration of the early contact between British colonisers, American whalers and the Indigenous Noongar people on the south coast of Western Australia ... is both historical and magical'.

Womersley's Bereft is 'a beautifully written book, spare and compelling', said the judges. 'The tragedy and bleakness of the story are, at time, almost unbearbale but Womersley's fine prose and narrative intensity make Bereft unforgettable.'

Following the announcement of the shortlist  some members of the Australia literary community expressed concerns about only three titles making the list. In 2010, six titles were shortlisted for the award. The absence of female authors on this year's list has also attracted attention.

As previously reported by the Weekly Book Newsletter, the prize money for the award has increased to $50,000 this year, up from $42,000 in 2010.
The 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award went to Peter Temple for his crime novel Truth (Text).

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