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Other Prizes > Miles Franklin Award

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message 1: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments The Life to Come has won this year from a competitive shortlist, including Kim Scott and Gerald Murnane.

MisterHobgoblin It seems to me that every other year, the Miles Franklin committee awards books that are not actually very good, but simply designed to tick the boxes associated with serious literary fiction. I did not read The Life To Come, but I have read Michelle de Kretser before which I found dull and confusing at the time, and remarkably unmemorable looking back. I read some of this year's longlist - most of the texts I read were not shortlisted and the best ones seemed to miss the cut. I did read Taboo (Kim Scott) - it was a bit unstructured and didn't work for me. On the other hand, The Crying Place (Lia Hills), also dealt with remote Aboriginal communities in a rather better way but was not shortlisted. I have heard Border Districts (Gerald Murnane) generously described as worthy rather than delivering a great experience for the reader.

message 3: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments I have The Life to Come reserved at my library. Taboo was the book that interested me most, but hadn't been released yet in the U.S. Neither has The Crying Place, but I will be looking for it when it is released here. I had hopes that Murnane might get the sentimental nod, but I think his book may have been too literary for most, in the sense that James, Mann, or Proust are considered too literary. I don't see Murnane fitting into any upcoming awards criteria where he might receive recognition but maybe the group will give him a slot in the author discussion section.

message 4: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3590 comments Mod
I have not yet read The Life to Come, but have read all of de Kretser's previous novels and enjoyed them, particularly Questions of Travel...

MisterHobgoblin Sam wrote: "...but I think his book may have been too literary for most, in the sense that James, Mann, or Proust are considered too literary..."

I am not sure quite what this means. Is 'literary' being used as a euphemism for inaccessible? Or pretentious? As far as I see it, all fiction is literary and literary fiction is just a label that means anything that doesn't easily fit into another genre. The concept of too literary just acts as an apology for all that is worst about literary prizes, justifying tedious, pointless and otherwise-unmarketable vanity projects.

message 6: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments I hadn't heard of Murnane before but now I'm intrigued!

message 7: by David (last edited Aug 27, 2018 10:22AM) (new)

David MisterHobgoblin wrote: "I am not sure quite what this means. Is 'literary'..."

I can't speak for what Sam means, but I have always thought of the description "literary" for fiction as being like the description "poetic" for prose - one that can come in degrees. For me the contrast to a book being literary is a book that is pure entertainment. In a lot of genre fiction that really is the main, if not only, goal of the author. Horror stories try to engage your fear, comedies make you laugh, popular love stories are often sentimental, mysteries are exercises in puzzle-solving, science fiction and fantasy ask "wouldn't it be cool if the world was like this?" and so on. Entertainment fiction that does not clearly fit a genre will often be stories where the idea is a particularly clever plot that entertains in a number of ways.

By contrast, I think of a book as being literary if it does something else. Maybe it is about the exploration of ideas that makes you think about people and the world in a way you might not have before. Maybe it is about the particular use of language and how it expresses the ideas in the book. But in some way the book aspires to be an engagement of ideas with the reader in a way that a book written as entertainment does not.

Now having said all that, of course books can do some of both. But I would not confuse the great pleasure one can get from reading a great work of literary fiction with entertainment. They are different things. I also would not (as some surely do) assume that books that are about ideas are necessarily better or harder to write than books that provide great entertainment. Both have their place and their value. But at the same time, I do see these things as legitimately separate ways of looking at books and things that can be true in degrees as well as in combination.

So again, I can't speak for Sam and I probably would not use the phrase "too literary", but I can see how thinking that a book emphasized the literary elements at the expense of entertainment is a reason to use the phrase. Given the list of authors Sam uses as examples, however, my guess is that "too literary" here means that the ideas the books are about are very difficult for a reader to get at and require a lot more work than even lots of other works of literary fiction, thus are generally discouraging to a wider audience.

message 8: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments MisterHobgoblin wrote: "I am not sure quite what this means. Is 'literary' being used as a euphemism for inaccessible? Or pretentious?"

Well yes, I would say so. But these things sometimes need to be coded in such a way that they will communicate to the readers who will enjoy the book and to those who won't at the same time, and without appearing to be derogatory or condescending.
There needs to be a way to say that, for example, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing is a more challenging reading experience than White Teeth, without its making the book sound like a lot of hard work (or using terms reminiscent of school reading schemes).

I had always assumed Murnane was a Booker literary-fiction type author. But having noticed a couple of people on GR reading him lately who tend to dismiss Booker stuff as middlebrow, I would assume he does fit the bracket suggested.

message 9: by David (last edited Aug 27, 2018 01:22PM) (new)

David Antonomasia wrote: "... who tend to dismiss Booker stuff as middlebrow..."

Since we're on the topic of "is the term 'literary fiction' pretentious" ... the use of the term "middlebrow" seems to be more common that the terms it is derived from, but it does evoke a hierarchy of quality that says that literary fiction is superior and entertainment fiction is inferior. I never use the terms "highbrow", "middlebrow", or "lowbrow". Talking about whether a book is more or less accessible or whether it has qualities of literary fiction while still being a work aimed at general entertainment can more precisely do the job without committing oneself to a hierarchy.

message 10: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments MisterHobgoblin wrote: "Sam wrote: "...but I think his book may have been too literary for most, in the sense that James, Mann, or Proust are considered too literary..."

I am not sure quite what this means. Is 'literary'..."

My apologies. I was trying to dash off an answer to your post on the tablet after a long day and while trying to be brief, didn't state my thoughts clearly. What I meant to say was--In comparison to the other shortlisted authors, Murnane's book is less eventful, less topical, slower paced. I thought Proust, James, and Mann had a similarity to Murnane since those three authors are very subjective, read slowly, and one almost has to learn how to read them and learn their style before one enjoys them. When I was young, the term academic fiction described those authors because they were perceived to be read mostly by academics. I've been substituting the term literary for academic. Murnane fits into that category IMO.
BTW, Border Districts like other Murnane books is a synthesis of fiction and essay that I found unique and feel I have not quite defined. I'm planning on reading and rereading more of his work in the future so I can discuss his work more knowledgeably.

message 11: by Antonomasia (last edited Aug 27, 2018 07:56PM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments David wrote: "the use of the term "middlebrow" seems to be more common that the terms it is derived from, but it does evoke a hierarchy of quality that says that literary fiction is superior and entertainment fiction is inferior. I never use the terms "highbrow", "middlebrow", or "lowbrow". ."

While it might be commonest to use and hear 'middlebrow' as a pejorative, it doesn't have to be. Sometimes it's exactly what I want to read, and it seems like the best way of describing certain books. (An example, a book this post just reminded me to add.) Publisher of forgotten twentieth century British classics, Persephone Books, specifically pursues the middlebrow. Another group I'm a member of has a thread called 'celebrating the middlebrow'.

The 'brows' are interesting terms to observe in use on GR because of the types of books different people (not posters in this group) apply it to. There are readers who find most Booker novels fairly demanding and therefore deem them, and literary fiction in general, to be highbrow, and there are those whom I already mentioned who openly disdain same (with occasional exceptions such as Levy and W. Self) as middlebrow, and prefer the experimental.

message 12: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments From reading comments in other threads, I can see members can't wait for another list of prize nominated books. Thankfully the Miles Franklin longlist is out. I'm actually late with the update.

The Lebs
Boy Swallows Universe
A Sand Archive
A Stolen Season
The Death of Noah Glass
Too Much Lip
The Lucky Galah

I have only read Boy Swallows Universe and I thought it was a fun read. It may be a bit light for this group, but it has won praise and is already being adapted to both a play and television series in Australia. As I said I enjoyed the book but my best praise is that I would have raved about this if I were in my teens since it is a coming of age told told from that person's point of view.
My next book will be Too Much Lip.
Shortlist July 2nd.

message 13: by MisterHobgoblin (new)

MisterHobgoblin I have read The Lucky Galah - which I enjoyed a lot - and The Lebs - which was unmemorable. I have Dyschronia and Noah Glass sitting on my coffee table and they might get read - but this list doesn't;t particularly inspire me to go out and get the books.

message 14: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Moving on:
The Lebs
A Stolen Season
A Sand Archive
The Death of Noah Glass
Too Much Lip

message 15: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Too Much Lip took the Miles Franklin.

message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments 2020 winner was The Yield by Tara June Winch

message 17: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments The longlist is out

Aravind Adiga
Pan Macmillan Australia

Robbie Arnott
The Rain Heron
Text Publishing

Daniel Davis Wood
At the Edge of the Solid World

Gail Jones
Our Shadows
Text Publishing

Sofie Laguna
Infinite Splendours
Allen & Unwin

Amanda Lohrey
The Labyrinth
Text Publishing

Laura Jean McKay
The Animals in That Country
Scribe Publications

Andrew Pippos
Pan Macmillan Australia

Mirandi Riwoe
Stone Sky Gold Mountain
University of Queensland Press

Philip Salom
The Fifth Season
Transit Lounge

Nardi Simpson
Song of the Crocodile
Hachette Australia

Madeleine Watts
The Inland Sea
Pushkin Press

message 18: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments In recent years this has been a strong guide to books that ought to be on the Booker list but don't make it due to the odd blind spot for Australian (and NZ) literature in recent years - e.g. The Yield was exceptional.

Nice to see Daniel Davis Wood, an exceptional reviewer of novels at Splice, there as an author.

message 20: by Sam (last edited Jun 16, 2021 07:18AM) (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Shortlist:
The Rain Heron
The Labyrinth
The Inland Sea
At the Edge of the Solid World

message 21: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments I feel I should read At The Edge of the Solid World. The author’s literary taste and writing (eg reviews) are great. Just 1 small problem or rather 450 of them. And I have hardly seen any reviews as to what the book is actually like.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6978 comments I have only read "Amnesty"

message 23: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Are any Booker eligible? As we discussed on the Stella thread I think answer may be they were as again I think this is for 2020 novels, whereas we're speculating about the Booker for novels mostly in 2021.

message 24: by WndyJW (last edited Jun 16, 2021 07:21PM) (new)

WndyJW | 6595 comments Paul, At the Edge of the Solid World is compulsive, compelling and sweeping; instead of reading it in one or two evenings, you’ll read it on two or three. Stop being a big baby.

message 25: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 6595 comments I have to say I found reading The Yield a slog. The old man sections were good, but the young woman coming home chapters were too slow. I put it down about a quarter way and will read it when it’s nominated for something. I’m sure it’s a matter of timing.

message 26: by Paul (new)

message 27: by Sam (last edited Jul 15, 2021 07:42AM) (new)

Sam | 1713 comments This is one I wanted to sample but once I did, I postponed reading the book because I wasn't a fan of the prose. I may reexamine the book later.

message 28: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 6595 comments I read the first chapter of The Rain Heron and really liked it. The Labyrinth sounds intriguing.

message 29: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Longlist for 2022:

The Other Half of You (Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Hachette)
After Story (Larissa Behrendt, UQP)
Scary Monsters (Michelle de Kretser, A&U)
Bodies of Light (Jennifer Down, Text)
Echolalia (Briohny Doyle, Vintage)
The Magpie Wing (Max Easton, Giramondo)
The Dogs (John Hughes, Upswell)
The Airways (Jennifer Mills, Picador)
One Hundred Days (Alice Pung, Black Inc.)
The Performance (Claire Thomas, Hachette)
7 ½ (Christos Tsiolkas, A&U)
Grimmish (Michael Winkler, Puncher & Wattmann).

message 30: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Only one I have read is The Performance (which was very good)

Grimmish is represented by one of my favourite literary agents, Martin Shaw

message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Have people seen the plagiarism scandal that has been the main talking point on this year’s award?

Guardian has largely covered it - worth reading the saga

While I can see his point in the latter article, his defence to the first accusations doesn’t then really support his response to 2nd (first - sorry, complete accident, my papers got muddled up, second - it was what all artists do and deliberate)

That said, those I follow in Australian literary scene seem more supportive of the author, and there is a witch-hunt element to the follow up revelations.

And it actually makes me quite interested to read the book.

message 32: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Hobson | 60 comments Paul wrote: "Have people seen the plagiarism scandal that has been the main talking point on this year’s award?

Someone on Twitter linked this ten-year-old article from The New Yorker which I confess I never saw at the time. The truth reads like the plot of its own thriller.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6978 comments I see what you mean re plagiarism - the Guardian articles contain sentences and in some cases whole paragraphs which are almost word for word lifted from the 10 year old New Yorker article.

message 34: by Alwynne (new)

Alwynne | 839 comments I saw that too, pretty blatant, although I have sometimes been influenced by something I've read without realising it, this seemed too obvious not to be deliberate. Foolish to base material on such a well-known book though.

Thanks for the list Paul, I haven't really read that much contemporary Australian fiction but liked what I've come across of de Kretser's, and I've heard good things about the Thomas too. The only other author who's familiar is Tsiolkas because of the popularity of 'The Slap' and the series based on it - although not an author I'm likely to sample.

message 35: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Grimmish by Michael Winkler is one I've seen a lot of noise about - albeit that's more because one of my most connected people I follow on Twitter (*) is his agent.

(* in that he seems to follow / be followed by same people I do, like similar books etc)

message 36: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 6595 comments Unless this poor fellow has a photographic memory of which he is unaware, that was plagiarism.

I used to follow the Miles Franklin prize. I’ve enjoyed the AU/NZ writers that I’ve read (and I will watch any comedy from NZ AU, they are brilliantly funny,). but haven’t for some years, probably because of all the new (to me) prizes I was introduced to by this group.

message 37: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments The winner is Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down

message 38: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 6595 comments I used to like this prize, then it got lost in the mix of other prizes.

message 39: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Peninsula Press (winners of the 2021 Goldsmiths Prize) have picked up Grimmish for publication next year in the UK and Coach House books in the US. This one does sound fascinating so that is great news.

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