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Love, death, grief and eccentricity on Miles Franklin shortlist

Books & Poetry

Five first-time nominees have been named in this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist.

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Australian poet Philip Salom’s third novel, Waiting, is among the nominees and tells the tales of a cross-dressing man and his partner, and a divorced landscape gardener and his academic partner.

“It is a double narrative of two different classes of people,” he told AAP.

“It is a novel of meetings and encounters and eccentric characters.”

Author Emily Maguire was also shortlisted for her psychological thriller An Isolated Incident, about a woman named Chris whose sister Bella is brutally murdered.

The three other shortlisted authors announced last night are Mark O’Flynn for The Last Days Of Ava Langdon, an empathetic portrayal of a misunderstood but spirited outsider; Ryan O’Neill for Their Brilliant Careers, a satire featuring 15 biographies of imagined Australian writers, and Josephine Wilson for Extinctions, which explores”ageing, adoption, grief and remorse; rescue and resistance to rescue”.

“Like all great literature, the five novels on the 2017 Miles Franklin shortlist explore the restorative power of love, the pernicious influence of the past upon the present, the tragedy of the present avoiding the past, the challenge of unconventional identities, the interweaving of lives across communities, the devastation of grief, and the warzone that is the media, masculinity and a small country town,” said State Library of NSW Mitchell librarian Richard Neville, speaking on behalf of the judging panel.

He added that it celebrated diversity of voices and approaches to writing about Australian life.

“None of these novels draw on familiar tropes of Australian literature – yet each brings a distinctive pitch of truth and insight into the Australian experience,” he said on behalf of the judging panel.”

The shortlisted authors will receive $5000 from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

The overall winner will be announced on September 7.


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