Australia’s Miles Franklin Literary Award: Longlist

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Established in 1957, the award puts forward 12 titles for this year’s longlist, each chosen for its evocation of Australian life.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘An Array of Distinctive Voices’
Today (May 19), we have word from Australia’s much-watched Miles Franklin Literary Award, which, as Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, was created through the will of the author of My Brilliant Career.

That book was self-published in 1901 by Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin (1879-1954), known as the feminist and author Miles Franklin. The Academy-nominated film treatment of My Brilliant Career was directed by Gillian Armstrong for a 1979 release with Judy Davis and Sam Neill. Franklin’s other key title, All That Swagger, was published in 1936.

Established in 1957, the award helps to support authors and “to foster uniquely Australian literature,” and has begun sporting a logo that might bring Mary Poppins to mind.

“Without an indigenous literature, people can remain alien in their own soil.”Miles Franklin

Miles Franklin is said to have believed that, “Without an indigenous literature, people can remain alien in their own soil.” How relevant that comment seems at this point in the political life of many of world publishing’s markets.

Today, the prize is administered by a trustee company with an aptly elegiac name: Perpetual.

The winner this summer will receive 60,000 Australian dollars (US$46,421).

Miles Franklin Literary Award 2021 Longlist
Author Title Publisher
Aravind Adiga Amnesty Pan Macmillan Australia
Robbie Arnott The Rain Heron Text Publishing
Daniel Davis Wood At the Edge of the Solid World Brio
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 Lucky’s 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
‘Fabulism and Psychologism’

The Miles Franklin shortlist is expected on June 16 and a winner announcement on July 15.

Last year’s winner was Tara June Winch for The Yield (Penguin Books Australia, April 31).

A prepared statement on the release of the 2021 longlist comes from Richard Neville, a librarian with the State Library of New South Wales. “The 2021 Miles Franklin longlist is a rich mix of well-established, early-career, and debut novelists,” he says, “whose work ranges from historical fiction to fabulism and psychologism.

“Through an array of distinctive voices, these works invite their readers to engage with questions regarding the natural and animal worlds, asylum, sexual abuse, colonialism, racism, and grief. These are stories about trauma and loss, and also about beauty, resilience and hope.”

Neville is joined on the jury by book critic Melinda Harvey; author and literary critic Bernadette Brennan; book critic James Ley; and author and activist Sisonke Msimang.

Last year’s winner was Tara June Winch for The Yield (Penguin Books Australia, April 31).

Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund is a supporter of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, providing 5,000 Australian dollars (US$3,868) to each of the finalists and granting money to the prize since 2004.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Miles Franklin Award is here. More from us on Australia is here. More from us on publishing and book prizes is here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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