The 2013 Miles Franklin Award Longlist was announced on twitter this morning and I have to say, that was a pretty fun way to find out each book. I don’t usually do posts announcing long/shortlists because you can find them in a zillion other places but I thought I might with this one and try and incorporate it into some of my challenges.
1. Floundering, by Romy Ash (Text Publishing). I actually have this one checked out from my local library at the moment as I had planned to read it after its inclusion in the longlist for the Stella Prize.
2. Lola Bensky, by Lily Brett (Penguin AU). The only book from the longlist that I’ve already read, I reviewed this for the publisher last year. I have read Lily Brett before and I enjoy her books a lot. It’s a very accessible title, it will appeal to a broad range of people, especially those who like 60’s music.
3. Street To Street, by Brian Castro (Giramondo). I haven’t heard of this title (I’m going to show my ignorance here and admit that there are 3 titles on this list that I haven’t even heard of) and it’s one of only two titles on the longlist by a male author.
4. Questions Of Travel, by Michelle De Kretser (Allen & Unwin). I also have this one checked out from my local library as it was included in the Stella longlist (and recently announced shortlist). I’m looking to read it for my Australian Women Writers Challenge as it seems to fit nicely into diversity which is a category I often struggle to fulfill.
5. The Beloved, by Annah Faulkner (Picador). Annah Faulkner was the winner of the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for an Emerging Writer and this is her debut novel. It’s set in Port Moresby in the 1950s.
6. The Daughters Of Mars, by Tom Keneally (Vintage). The only other male on the list is Tom Keneally, who really needs no introduction. The only novel of his that I’ve read is Schindler’s Ark many years ago (which was the basis of the movie Schindler’s List) so I’d definitely be interested in reading this one. It would count towards my Aussie Authors Challenge where I’m trying to challenge myself to read more books by Australian male authors.
7. The Mountain, by Drusilla Modjeska (Vintage). I had this on my TBR last year but never got around to reading it. It’s set in Papua New Guinea in the 1960’s and I am always interested in finding new settings to read in books. I might have to try and find time to fit this one in. My husband owns another Modjeska book that he really enjoyed and I nearly bought him this one for his birthday. Maybe this year!
8. The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman (Doubleday). This book was all the rage last year and I was quite keen to read it too, especially after I saw it featured on the First Tuesday Book Club.
9. Mateship With Birds, by Carrie Tiffany (Picador). This is the only novel I actually own from the list but I haven’t read it yet although I’d already earmarked it for ‘soon’ after its inclusion in the longlist and then shortlist of the Stella Prize. My husband has read it and enjoyed it immensely and he’s a big fan of Tiffany’s earlier novel as well.
10. Red Dirt Talking, by Jacqueline Wright (Fremantle Press). This is one of the other novels that I haven’t heard of but it’s set in outback Australia and centers around the disappearance of a young girl in the middle of a custody battle. It sounds like something I would really love so it’s going straight on the TBR list as well.
To be honest, I’m surprised at the list containing 8 titles by women and 2 by men. I remember that there was a lot of talk in recent years (prior to Anna Funder’s win for All That I Am last year) about how the prize was ignoring women. Was it really? Or was the strength just with male-authored books those years as it seems to be with female-authored books this year? Last year three of the five shortlisted titles were by women and both of the longlisted titles by men would have to make the shortlist to have that ratio this year. However things go, the shortlist will be dominated by women yet again. It’s possible that the very creation of the Stella Prize and the push for more women-authored books to be reviewed and talked about has paid off, because obviously the list is very heavily female based. Or it could just be that it’s a cyclical thing, I’m not sure. I do think that it raises an interesting question – is it better to have a strong gender bias one way or another if that’s the best list that can be put together, or is it important to have equality?
Overall I think the list is relatively well-rounded – there are accessible titles there for many casual readers, such as the very popular The Light Between Oceans and The Daughters of Mars, by Tom Keneally, a name almost everyone would be familiar with. Ideally I always like to pick a few titles from literature longlists or shortlists to read when they’re announced but my trouble is always finding the time for new books! The best intentions, often with the worst execution! However, these are my tentative inclusions:
Questions Of Travel, by Michelle De Kretser (crosses over to the Stella)
The Daughters Of Mars, by Tom Keneally
Mateship With Birds, by Carrie Tiffany (also crosses over to the Stella)
Red Dirt Talking, by Jacqueline Wright.
If I can, I’d also like to try The Mountain, by Drusilla Modjeska and The Light Between Oceans, by M.L Stedman.
This year on the Miles Franklin website, they are running the Miles Of Reading Challenge, where they are asking readers across the country to support Australian literature by reading at least one title from the list. You can review the longlisted books in the discussion forums and have a chance to win some prizes… you can see more about that here.
Anyone else have any thoughts on the list? Have you read any and do you have any recommendations?