Showing all posts tagged: Miles Franklin

What about a best of the best Miles Franklin award in 2027?

12 March 2023
Stacks of books in a bookshop

Image courtesy of Eli Digital Creative.

To mark its twenty-fifth anniversary, Britain’s Baillie Gifford literary prize, which recognises excellence in non-fiction writing, is holding a Winner of Winners Award to select the best title — the best of the best, if you like — among the past twenty-four winners of the prize.

Riffing on this idea, Jason Steger, literary editor for Australian newspapers The Age, and The Sydney Morning Herald, suggests the Miles Franklin Literary Award could do likewise to commemorate its seventieth anniversary in 2027. The Booker Prize also did something similar in 2008, for their fortieth anniversary, with the Best of the Booker.

Steger put forward the proposal in his weekly newsletter The Booklist last week. A special panel of judges could create a shortlist of perhaps a dozen past Miles Franklin winners, with a public vote to determine an overall victor:

Like the Booker, choosing a shortlist and a public vote would seem the optimum way to go if the Miles were to do it. A panel of judges would have to be chosen and they could pick perhaps a 10- or 12-book shortlist. And then the likes of you and me would have our say.

Selecting a crème de la crème winner would be a big ask, as would drawing up any shortlist, but anything that boosts interest and excitement in Australian literature can only be a good idea.


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Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down wins the 2022 Miles Franklin literary award

20 July 2022
Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down bookcover

It’s a red letter day in Australian literature, with Bodies of Light, by Jennifer Down being named winner of the 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Here’s the book trailer for Bodies of Light, followed by an outline of the premise.

So by the grace of a photograph that had inexplicably gone viral, Tony had found me. Or: he’d found Maggie. I had no way of knowing whether he was nuts or not; whether he might go to the cops. Maybe that sounds paranoid, but I don’t think it’s so ridiculous. People have gone to prison for much lesser things than accusations of child-killing.A quiet, small-town existence. An unexpected Facebook message, jolting her back to the past. A history she’s reluctant to revisit: dark memories and unspoken trauma, warning knocks on bedroom walls, unfathomable loss. She became a new person a long time ago. What happens when buried stories are dragged into the light?


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Going blue for Miles Franklin week 2022

18 July 2022
disassociated Miles Franklin week logo

The winner of the 2022 Miles Franklin literary prize will be announced on Wednesday 20 July 2022, and to mark the momentous occasion I’ve remixed the disassociated logo with the Miles Franklin hues of blue for this week.

I’m a big fan of literary awards, as they’re great places to find quality reading suggestions. Of the six titles on the 2021 shortlist, I’ve so far read The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey, the 2021 winner, plus Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos, The Inland Sea by Madeleine Watts, and The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott.

To date I’ve not been disappointed. But for more recent reading ideas, check out the 2022 Miles Franklin longlist, announced in May, and the shortlist from last month.


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The 2022 Miles Franklin shortlist

23 June 2022

The 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist was unveiled this evening, with the following five novels making the cut:

Awesome to see Grimmish by Michael Winkler, on the list, now the first self-published novel to reach the Miles Franklin shortlist.

The winner will be named on Wednesday 20 July 2022.


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Grimmish Michael Winkler’s self-published Miles Franklin entry

22 June 2022
Grimmish by Michael Winkler, book cover

Grimmish by Michael Winkler — along with the other books on this year’s Miles Franklin longlist — has somewhat found itself in the shadows as a consequence of the plagiarism controversy surrounding John Hughes’ novel The Dogs, which has since been removed from the longlist.

This could have been unfortunate as the 2021 title by the Melbourne based Australian author has an historic claim to fame. Grimmish is the first ever self-published novel to be included on the longlist of the long running Australian literary prize.

Variously described as “exploded nonfiction“, and an “experimental historical novel“, Grimmish recounts the story of Italian American boxer Joe Grim, and his tour of Australia in 1908 and 1909. Grim who fought in over one-hundred-and-fifty bouts, only prevailed on twenty-four occasions. That didn’t prevent him from developing a reputation for his showmanship and extraordinary physical resilience, and earning the moniker of the “the human punching bag” in the process.

But Grim isn’t the only player in this story with tenacity. Like many authors, Winkler struggled to find a publisher interested in looking at his manuscript. But that was only the beginning. He was also subjected to numerous taunts and sneers, being told Grimmish, with its unconventional format, was “wearisome”, and “repellent.” Publishing houses, it seemed, did not want to take a punt on a book they felt certain would not sell.

At that point Winkler decided to self-publish. But self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted. In addition to writing a novel, an author is required to take on all the functions of a publishing house, editing, printing, marketing, and distribution, among them. An abundance of resolve and stamina — matching that, I dare say, of a champion boxer — is required.

The Miles Franklin shortlist will be announced tomorrow, Thursday 23 June 2022, and Grimmish has more than a few fans gunning for its inclusion. Rave reviews aside — the novel has garnered a respectable 4.25 out of five rating on Goodreads, Grimmish is almost deserving of a shortlist place purely on account of Winkler’s drive and determination in getting his book published.


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John Hughes accused of more instances of plagiarism

16 June 2022

Allegations of further instances of plagiarism have been levelled against Australian author John Hughes, following a Guardian Australia investigation which identified almost sixty similarities between Hughes’ 2021 novel The Dogs, and a 1985 book, The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich.

Although Hughes apologised, describing his use of the phrases and passages from Alexievich’s title as inadvertent, another probe has found The Dogs — which has since been withdrawn from the longlist of this year’s Miles Franklin literary award — apparently contains sentences drawn from other notable literary works, including The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina.

It has since been revealed that The Dogs also contains passages which are similar to books including The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina and All Quiet on the Western Front. Guardian Australia has cross-referenced all the similarities between Hughes’ work and those classic texts and found some cases in which whole sentences were identical or where just one word had changed.

Some people might have been prepared to give Hughes the benefit of the doubt after he apologised for using Alexievich’s work, given the explanation he offered seemed some what plausible. Unfortunately it is difficult to look passed these latest allegations. I’d been looking forward to reading The Dogs, as I do any title on the Miles Franklin longlist.


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John Hughes plagiarised Svetlana Alexievich without realising

9 June 2022

A Guardian Australia investigation has turned up numerous similarities — fifty-eight in fact — between The Dogs, the 2021 novel by Australian author John Hughes, and The Unwomanly Face of War, a 1985 non-fiction title, written by Belarusian journalist and Nobel laureate, Svetlana Alexievich.

After uncovering some similarities between the books, Guardian Australia applied document comparison software to both texts, which revealed 58 similarities and some identical sentences. Guardian Australia also found conceptual similarities between incidents described in the books, including the central scene from which The Dogs takes its title.

Yes, there’s a lot of published fiction in the world. Many authors, just about all I’d think, are influenced to some degree by the work of other writers. From time to time then, some comparisons may be drawn between two quite different titles, and one or two minor overlaps may also be observed. But fifty-eight instances? That’s quite a stretch.

In a statement to Guardian Australia Hughes offered an apology, saying he’d started writing The Dogs — which has also been included on this year’s Miles Franklin longlist — fifteen years ago. Part of this process involved talking to his Ukrainian grandparents, whose accounts of the Second World War where similar to some of the testimonies Alexievich gathered while writing her book.

He had first read The Unwomanly Face of War when it came out in English in 2017, he said, and had used it to teach creative writing students about voice, acknowledging Alexievich as the source. “I typed up the passages I wanted to use and have not returned to the book itself since,” he said. “At some point soon after I must have added them to the transcripts I’d made of interviews with my grandparents and over the years and … [had] come to think of them as my own.”

Update: a joint statement from Hughes and his publisher Upswell in response to the Guardian Australia article.


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Small independent publishers dominate Miles Franklin longlist

31 May 2022

Six of the titles named on the 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist were published by members of the Small Press Network, a Melbourne based organisation representing more than two hundred and fifty small and independent publishers across Australia, and include one self-published title.

In much the same way small businesses are a vital component of the Australian economy, so too are small and independent publishers to Australian literature.


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The 2022 Miles Franklin longlist

24 May 2022

The 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist was announced this morning. An annual award, the Miles Franklin recognises outstanding works of Australian fiction.

Some familiar titles there, some new ones, either way time to update those to-be-read lists. The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 23 June 2022.


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