New voices and small publishers have dominated the longlist of Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, a move that could indicate a positive progression.
Two first-time novelists, a previous Man Booker prize-winner and a veteran writer of eight works of fiction are among the six authors shortlisted for the 2021 Miles Franklin award.
Chairman of judges Richard Neville said the longlist was a mix of well-established, early career and debut novelists whose work range 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,” Mr Neville, the Mitchell Librarian at the State Library of NSW, said. “These are stories about trauma and loss, and also about beauty, resilience, and hope.”
Aravind Adiga, who won the Man Booker prize in 2008 for The White Tiger, is shortlisted for his fifth novel, Amnesty: a tale about a Sri Lankan man living in Sydney whose status as an illegal immigrant risks being exposed after he becomes entangled in a murder investigation.
UK-based writer Daniel Davis Wood has also been shortlisted for his second novel, At the Edge of the Solid World, in which a grieving Sydney couple is coming to terms with the death of their newborn in the Swiss Alps, as their Australian home town confronts an act of shocking violence that makes international headlines.
Grief and violence are themes also shared in The Labyrinth, Amanda Lohrey’s eighth work of fiction and the second time the 74-year-old has been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin.
Two debut novelists complete the shortlisted nominees; Sydney-based writer Andrew Pippos for Lucky’s, telling the epic tale of a Chicago-born Greek migrant who finds his fortune in Australia during the second world war; and New York-based writer Madeleine Watts, for her coming of age novel The Inland Sea. Watts won the 2015 Griffith Review novella prize for her debut novella, Afraid of Waking It.
The winner will be announced on 15 July.