Sofie Laguna’s acclaimed novel The Eye of the Sheep has won the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Laguna beat four other authors — Sonya Hartnett, Joan London, Christine Piper and Craig Sherborne— to take home the $60,000 prize, presented each year to a novel which “presents Australian life in any of its phases”.
2015 is the second straight year where heavy favourites where beaten by an outsider, with Hartnett and London widely believed to be the two main contenders leading into tonight’s announcement. Last year Evie Wyld’s All The Birds, Singing won out over Richard Flanagan, his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North famously going on to win the Man Booker Prize.
The Eye of the Sheep is Laguna’s second novel, and her first to be short-listed for the Miles Franklin award.
The judges said the book, which is told through the eyes of a young boy Jimmy Flick, “impressively examined domestic violence through Jimmy’s non-judgmental perceptions”.
“Hints of his parents’ challenging upbringings adds to the gravity of the story of these working-class people trying their hardest to build a family, capable of both proud love and sickening violence,” the judges’ notes said.
“Gavin’s battle with alcohol, and Paula’s with her health, are related through Jimmy’s skewed interpretations.
“The power of this finely crafted novel lies in its coruscating language, inventive and imaginative, reflecting Jimmy’s vivid inner world of light and connections and pulsing energy.
“Laguna has a true ear for the rhythms of everyday dialogue, and her compassionate rendering of the frustrations – and compensations – of dealing with a child of sideways abilities, makes this novel an impressively eloquent achievement.”
by Sofie Laguna
Winner the 2015 Miles Franklin Award
Ned was beside me, his messages running easily through him, with space between each one, coming through him like water. He was the go-between, going between the animal kingdom and this one. I watched the waves as they rolled and crashed towards us, one after another, never stopping, always changing. I knew what was making them come, I had been there and I would always know.
Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father’s way. But when Jimmy’s world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.
Sofie Laguna’s first novel One Foot Wrong received rave reviews, sold all over the world and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. In The Eye of the Sheep, her great originality and talent will again amaze and move readers. In the tradition of Room and The Lovely Bones, here is a surprising and brilliant novel from one of our finest writers.