The Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist 2011

Congratulations to all of the longlisted authors!

Update: Click here for The 2011 Miles Franklin Award Shortlist

The longlisted authors are:

Jon Bauer – Rocks in the Belly

How far can you push a child before he snaps?

Rocks in the Belly tells the story of an eight-year-old boy and the adult he becomes. When he is young his mother fosters boys, despite the jealous turmoil it arouses in her son: jealousy that reaches unmanageable proportions when she fosters Robert, a child she can’t help bonding with. As the connection between them grows, the son’s envy triggers an event that profoundly changes everyone. Especially Robert.

At twenty-eight, still haunted by his childhood, the son returns to face his mother, who is now chronically ill. He hasn’t forgiven her for what happened to Robert, and yet she isn’t the same domineering woman anymore. Now she’s the dependent one and he the dominant force — a power he can’t help but abuse.

Written in two startlingly original voices, Rocks in the Belly is about the effortless destruction we wreak on one another in the simple pursuit of our own happiness, and a reminder that we never leave our childhood behind. A fast-paced, powerful, yet often beautiful and funny novel.

Order your copy of Rocks in the Belly here

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Honey Brown – The Good Daughter

Rebecca Toyer and Zach Kincaid each live on the outskirts of town, but come from very different sides of the tracks. When Zach’s wealthy mother goes missing, Rebecca – the truckie’s daughter – is implicated in her disappearance.

In the weeks that follow, Rebecca and Zach are drawn into a treacherous, adult world. Eager to please, Rebecca finds herself in danger of living up to the schoolyard taunts she so hates, while Zach channels his feelings through the sights of his gun.

In the fading summer light, grudges are nursed and tempers fray, and as old lies unravel it seems nobody can be relied on. But beyond the fallout, the hard lessons in love and betrayal have not been wasted. Rebecca and Zach realise that judgements can be flawed – and that trust is better earnt than given.

Original, unsettling and compelling, The Good Daughter is the much-anticipated second novel from Honey Brown.

Order your copy of The Good Daughter her

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Patrick Holland – The Mary Smokes Boys

Grey’s mother dies giving birth to his sister Irene and the tragedy haunts his life in the small town of Mary Smokes. Grey prays that his mother will be returned to him in some form, so he might protect her from the world as his father did not. This prayer, Grey believes is answered in his sister Irene. He becomes obsessed with protecting her purity and innocence.

Also with his mother gone and his father turned to drink, Grey begins running with the wild boys, horse-handlers and fox hunters and part-time timber workers – members of a small, vanishing tribe who find themselves caught between an old relationship with place and a new one that is exemplified by the highway that threatens their town. A rash gamble by Grey and Irene’s broken father means he and the Mary Smokes boys must steal horses to ensure Irene’s safety.

The consequences seem set to fall on Greys’ closest friend, Ook’ Eccleston. As Grey’s, Eccleston’s and Irene’s lives are put at stake his allegiances falter and the world of Mary Smokes slips into a heightened state of darkness and threat.With the passion of Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights and the distilled beauty of Ondaatje Patrick Holland captures the fragility and grace of small town life and how one fateful moment can forever alter the course of our lives.

Order your copy of The Mary Smokes Boys here

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Melina Marchetta – The Piper’s Son

Melina Marchetta’s brilliant, heart-wrenching new novel takes up the story of the group of friends from her best-selling, much-loved book Saving Francesca – only this time it’s five years later and Thomas Mackee is the one who needs saving.

Thomas Mackee wants oblivion. Wants to forget parents who leave and friends he used to care about and a string of one-night stands, and favourite uncles being blown to smithereens on their way to work on the other side of the world.

But when his flatmates turn him out of the house, Tom moves in with his single, pregnant aunt, Georgie. And starts working at the Union pub with his former friends. And winds up living with his grieving father again. And remembers how he abandoned Tara Finke two years ago, after his uncle’s death.

And in a year when everything’s broken, Tom realises that his family and friends need him to help put the pieces back together as much as he needs them.

Order your copy of The Piper’s Son here

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Roger McDonald – When Colts Ran

‘There was nothing more definite when it came to promise than the worn old earth.’

In this sweeping epic of friendship, toil, hope and failed promise, multi-award-winning author Roger McDonald follows the story of Kingsley Colts as he chases the ghost of himself through the decades, and in and out of the lives and affections of the citizens of ‘The Isabel’, a slice of Australia scattered with prospectors, artists, no-hopers and visionaries. Against this spacious backdrop of sheep stations, timeless landscapes and the Five Alls pub, men play out their fates, conduct their rivalries and hope for the best.

Major Dunc Buckler, ‘misplaced genius and authentic ratbag’, scours the country for machinery in a World War that will never find him. Wayne Hovell, slave to ‘moral duty’, carries the physical and emotional scars of Colts’s early rebellion, but also finds himself the keeper of his redemption. Normie Powell, son of a rugby-playing minister, finds his own mysticism as a naturalist, while warm-hearted stock dealer Alan Hooke longs for understanding in a house full of women. They are men shaped by the obligations and expectations of a previous generation, all striving to define themselves in their own language, on their own terms.

‘When Colts Ran’, written in Roger McDonald’s rich and piercingly observant style, in turns humorous and hard-bitten, charts the ebb and flow of human fortune, and our fraught desire to leave an indelible mark on society and those closest to us. It shows how loyalties shape us in the most unexpected ways. It is the story of how men ‘strike at beauty’ as they fall to the earth.

Order your copy of When Colts Ran here

Roger answered my Ten Terrifying Questions – read his answers here

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Stephen Orr – Time’s Long Ruin

Nine-year-old Henry Page is a club-footed, deep-thinking loner, spending his summer holidays reading, roaming the melting streets of his suburb, playing with his best friend Janice, and her younger brother and sister. Until one day Janice asks Henry to spend the day at the beach with them. He declines, a decision that will stay with him forever.

Time’s Long Ruin is based loosely on the disappearance of the Beaumont children from Glenelg beach on Australia Day, 1966. It’s a novel about friendship, love and loss; a story about those left behind, and how they carry on.

‘… eloquent, unusual, bold but responsible retelling of a veritable urban nightmare that still haunts the Australian imagination.’ – Peter Pierce, the Sydney Morning Herald

Order your copy of Time’s Long Ruin here

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Kim Scott – That Deadman Dance

Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

The novel’s hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

But slowly – by design and by accident – things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are “accidents” and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby’s Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia…

Order your copy of That Deadman Dance here

Kim answered my Ten Terrifying Questions – read his answers here

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Kirsten Tranter – The Legacy

What has happened to Ingrid?

Beautiful Ingrid, who leaves Australia, and her friends, and Ralph who loves her, to marry Gil Grey and set up home amid the New York art world. There she becomes the stepmother to Gil′s teenage artist daughter Fleur, a former child prodigy, and studies ancient artefacts known as ′curse scrolls′ at Colombia University. But at 9am on the morning of September 11, 2001, she has an appoitnment Downtown. And is never seen again.

Or is she?

Debra Adelaide (bestselling author of THE HOUSEHOLD GUIDE TO DYING) says of it: ′intelligent and engaging … intricate, detailed and acutely observed and beautifully written in a voice that is measured and consistent from start to finish′

It is a novel that asks the big questions about art, ′authenticity′, friendship and love — and keeps the pages turning at a furious pace.

Order your copy of The Legacy here

Follow Kirsten on Twitter here

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Chris Womersley – Bereft

It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.

In the town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox — a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.

Order your copy of Bereft here

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