The five novels shortlisted for Australia’s most prestigious literary award were announced online on Thursday (23 June).
The $60,000 prize is awarded to a work judged as being ‘of the highest literary merit’ and which presents ‘Australian life in any of its phases’.
This year’s shortlisted writers include an author whose novel was rejected by numerous publishers before being self-published, a previous Miles Franklin winner, and three established authors.
The five titles shortlisted for the 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award are:
Each of the 2022 shortlisted authors will receive $5,000 from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.
The winner is announced on 20 July.
‘The outstanding feature of this year’s Miles Franklin shortlist is the range of dynamic and diverse voices that address the experience of pain, intergenerational trauma and intergenerational dialogue with compassion, exceptional craft and rigorous unsentimentality,’ said Richard Neville, State Library of NSW Mitchell Librarian and Chair of the judging panel.
Four other judges sat on the panel with Neville: the author and literary critic Dr Bernadette Brennan; literary scholar Dr Mridula Nath Chakraborty; book critic Dr James Ley; and author and editor Dr Elfie Shiosaki.
Copyright Agency’s CEO, Josephine Johnston, said: ‘This year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist showcases some of our most talented and respected writers whose vibrant voices inspire and challenge our views of Australian life.’
Of the five titles in contention, the judges’ comments were as follows:
The Other Half of You
‘…Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s latest addition to his Western Sydney trilogy takes us into the explosive intimacy of race and religion in Australia. The Other Half of You is the body bruising, soul-searing confessional letter to a child, that anyone who has had to wrestle with the fluid-oozing, flesh-tearing oppositional pulls of family and freedom, community and calling, conformity and mutiny, will recognise….’
‘Scary Monsters is a witty, meticulously witnessed and boldly imaginative work that rages against racism, ageism and misogyny. In this her seventh novel, Michelle de Kretser offers a provocative, disturbing yet often humorous take on some of the ways in which immigration ‘breaks people’. Through the twin narratives of Lili and Lyle, two South Asian migrants, she interrogates issues of belonging and authenticity, center and periphery.
Bodysuits of Light
‘Jennifer Down crafts a story of almost impossible regeneration from the ashes of unbearable pain and loss. The five-year-old Maggie, who will come to be known to us as Josie and Holly, undergoes a harrowing journey through state care, only to emerge with a new self. Through Maggie’s unreliable narration of her, we learn about her unstable life of being and becoming, and, as readers, we become increasingly unsettled ourselves…’
One Hundred Days
‘Alice Pung astutely explores the agencies of girls to unravel the bounds of gender, race and class and attempt to determine their futures for themselves. The novel follows the story of 16-year-old Karuna, who moves into a housing commission tower in Melbourne with her Philippines-born Chinese mother, Grand Mar, in the afterlife of her parents’ divorce from her. When Karuna falls pregnant, Grand Mar locks her in their flat de ella for one hundred days before the birth of her child.’
‘Grimmish sets out to anatomise the phenomenon of physical pain in mock-scholarly fashion. In doing so, it gently disentangles the ugly knot of violence and self-destructiveness at the heart of masculinity. Winker approaches his subject with keen eye for life’s absurdity, grotesquery and tragedy.’
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