BREAKING NEWS: Miles Franklin Shortlist

Lovesong

by Alex Miller

Chez Dom – a small, rundown Tunisian cafe in Paris run by the widow Houria and her niece Sabiha – offers a home away from home for the North African immigrants working at the abattoirs of Vaugiraud.

One day a lost Australian tourist, John Patterner, seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden Parisian rainstorm. John is like no one Sabiha has met before – his calm grey eyes promise her a future she was not yet even aware she wanted. Theirs becomes a contented but unlikely marriage, and yet because they are essentially foreigners to each other, their love story sets in train an irrevocable course of tragic events.

Years later, living a small, quiet life in suburban Melbourne, what happened at Vaugiraud seems like a distant, troubling dream to Sabiha and John, who confides the story behind their seemingly ordinary lives to Ken, an ageing, melancholy writer. Lovesong is the story of a marriage, of people coming undone by desire, of ordinary lives and death, love and struggle. Into the wonderfully evoked contemporary settings of Paris and Melbourne, memories of Tunisian family life, culture and its music are tenderly woven. Buy Now

The Bath Fugues

by Brian Castro

The Bath Fugues is a meditation on melancholy and art, in the form of three interwoven novellas, centred respectively on an aging art forger; a Portuguese poet, opium addict and art collector; and a doctor, who has built an art gallery in tropical Queensland.

These characters are tied by more than their art, each dealing with questions of deception and discovery, counterfeiting and rewriting, transmission and identity and each stretching the bonds of trust and friendship. Buy Now

Jasper Jones

by Craig Silvey

Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie.

So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.

Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu. Buy Now

The Book of Emmett

by Deborah Forster

A stunning first novel from a Melbourne author. The story of the Brown family will wrench at your heart and make you hug those you love ever tighter.

Emmett Brown is as dark as Heathcliff, and as unpredictable. Sometimes he’s an inspiration, but not often. He’s a man of booze and obsessions: one of them is his ‘System’, an attempt to bend the laws of probability. But when the lottery numbers and horses fail him, so do love and reason, and he becomes an ogre to his wife and children.

For the innocents – Louisa, Rob, Peter, Daniel and Jessie – the bonds formed hiding in hedges at the end of the street, waiting for the maelstroms to pass, are complex and unbreakable. Over the years, the consequences of Emmett’s rages shape both their spirits and psyches, but as he lies dying they discover that love – however imperfect – is the best defence against pain. Buy Now

Truth

by Peter Temple

At the close of a long day, Inspector Stephen Villani stands in the bathroom of a luxury apartment high above the city. In the glass bath, a young woman lies dead, a panic button within reach.

So begins the sequel to Peter Temple’s bestselling masterpiece, The Broken Shore, winner of the Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel.

Villani’s life is his work. It is his identity, his calling, his touchstone. But now, over a few sweltering summer days, as fires burn across the state and his superiors and colleagues scheme and jostle, he finds all the certainties of his life are crumbling. Truth is a novel about a man, a family, a city. It is about violence, murder, love, corruption, honour and deceit. And it is about truth. Buy Now

Butterfly

by Sonya Hartnett

On the verge of her fourteenth birthday, Plum knows her life will change. But she has no idea how.Over the coming weeks, her beautiful neighbour Maureen will show her how she might fly. Her adored older brothers will court catastrophe in worlds that she barely knows exist. And her friends – her worst enemies – will tease and test, smelling weakness. They will try to lead her on and take her down.Who ever forgets what happens when you’re fourteen? Buy Now

4 Responses

  1. [...] Click here to view The 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award Shortlist. [...]

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  2. [...] authors have gone on to win or be shortlisted for other major awards, such as the Miles Franklin Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Booker [...]

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  3. Too hard to call! I’ve read all of them except The Bath Fugues, and they’d all be more than worthy winners. Nonetheless, if I was chair of the judging panel I’d have to leave out Butterfly, because it was way too reminiscent of my own high school days for comfort, and The Book of Emmet because the memory of some scenes still makes me squirm. Yes, Sonya and Deborah, I know good writing is meant to make you squirm, but I squirmed too much. Not fair? Take it up with the chair. Oops, sorry, that’s me.
    As a Melbourne girl, I have a huge soft spot for Truth…. loved the descriptions and intimate knowledge of my city, but the mental strain of having to keep up with a cast of characters as long as the phone book makes that one a runner-up.
    Both Lovesong and Jasper Jones were fabulous, thoughtful, moving books, so I’m declaring a tie. The fact they’re both published by Allen and Unwin (who also publish me) is entirely coincidental and no correspondence will be entered into.

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    • Dear Dr Ladd,

      We appreciate the time you have taken deliberating the issue and the care you have taken in handing down your verdict. We quite agree with your conclusions and defy anyone to challenge our shared determination to see a tie announced.

      My only regret is that Miles, herself, is not around to congratulate us in our efforts bring grace and charm to her little competition.

      The Booktopia Book Guru.

      Kylie Ladd is the author of After the FallAfter the Fall by Kylie Ladd

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