We’ve been very excited since the announcement of the Miles Franklin Longlist for this year, for a couple of very good reasons. Firstly, because we’re delighted that some of our favourites from last year have found their way onto the list. And secondly, because while the Miles Franklin has been criticised in recent years for its lack of female authors, this year’s longlist includes 7 fantastic female writers, as part of a truly diverse group of interesting Australian books that everyone can get stuck into! Here are a few of our favourites that made the list.
Having Kate Grenville come in to the shop last year to talk about her coming-of-age novel, Sarah Thornbill, was one of our 2011 event highlights. Kate is passionate about Australian storytelling, particularly when it comes to personal stories. Her renowned 2005 novel, The Secret River, was shortlisted for both the Miles Franklin and the Man Booker Prize so we’re excited to see if this latest Grenville novel makes the short list. Sarah Thornbill continues the story of the Thornbill family in Grenville’s compelling style that interweaves historical fact and fiction seamlessly. The release of this third book in the Hawkesbury River trilogy has been described as an historical event in Australian literature, so if you haven’t emersed yourself in any of Grenville’s classic Australian novels yet, right now is the perfect time to do it.
Sarah Thornbill isn’t the only final book in a classic Australian trilogy to make it on to the Miles Franklin longlist this year, with the Frank Moorhouse’s final long anticipated final book in the Edith trilogy, Cold Light, also making the list. This final episode in Frank’s trilogy about the League of Nations is stunning and we’re very glad it made the list. Edith Campbell Berry is a personal favourite character among some of the Shearer’s staff, for her plucky take on life. Those of you with long memories may remember the controversy that surrounded the rejection of the first of the Edith books from the Miles Franklin in 1994. Grand Days was excluded from the award because it wasn’t deemed sufficiently Australian, but the second in the series, Dark Palace won the award in 2001, so we’re very interested to see how this final novel goes as the awards start to roll in.
Anna Funder’s gripping first work of fiction, All That I Am, has also made it on to the longlist, which we’re very excited about. Anna’s non-fiction work Stasiland won her acclaim and now it looks like her fiction works are going to do the same! All That I Am is a thrilling tale that is based around a true story, and interweaves the stories of two characters connected to resistance in Nazi Germany. It is a tale about ravery and betrayal that will grip you, and we were lucky enough to have Anna in to talk to us about it last year. We were all captivated by Anna’s reading of two of the passages from this novel, and her discussion about the relationship between fiction and history in fiction writing. All That I Am is not to be missed!
We’re looking forward to seeing what Elliot Perlman has to say about his nomination for The Street Sweeper when he comes in to the shop for his talk next week. Elliot’s eloquent description of the importance of fiction when he came in to speak to us last year had us all hanging on to his every word, so we can’t wait to have him in again! The Street Sweeper was one of our top picks from last year so we’re very glad it made it on to the longlist. If you haven’t given yourself the chance to be swept away by this book yet, get your hands on one now!
Tony Birch, Blood
Steven Carroll, The Spirit of Progress
Mark Dapin, Spirit House
Virginia Duigan, The Precipice
Anna Funder, All That I Am
Kate Grenville, Sarah Thornhill
Gail Jones, Five Bells
Gillian Mears, Foal’s Bread
Alex Miller, Autumn Laing
Frank Moorhouse, Cold Light
Favel Parrett, Past The Shallows
Elliot Perlman, The Street Sweeper
Charlotte Wood, Animal People
To celebrate their nomination, Allen & Unwin are offering the ebooks of Animal People, Autumn Laing and and Foal's Bread for the special price of $19.99 until April 30. You can purchase copies here, on our ebooks store.