We were busy behind the scenes last week at Short List Books, but still managed to get some bookie action in. If two words best describe what the week ahead, they’d be Miles Franklin.
Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos.
This week in books
Book readers in Australia all know what’s happening this week. The winner of the 2021 Miles Franklin Literary Award will be announced this Thursday, 15 July, at 4PM (AEST), live on YouTube. A link to the announcement will be posted here, later in the week.
I’m still making my way through the list, but I’ve had a look at what other readers have been saying about the short listed titles.
Amnesty by Aravind Adiga
What makes Amnesty propulsive, powerful and unsettling in equal measure is Adiga’s ability to render this tale apolitically. The novel neither berates nor bolsters Australia’s immigration policy, merely spotlights a singular human story that so often gets lost amidst the debate, framed around a young man’s quest to negotiate the blurred line between justice and responsibility. It’s a story of dreams; those already shattered, those for the future, and the cost of making them a reality.
At the Edge of the Solid World by Daniel Davis Wood
The writing is exquisite and lyrical, but this is no easy read, and is quite dark and claustrophobic. But this is what Wood wants you to feel. There are multiple narratives, and many switches. But this book will have you pondering the same problems the narrator does. So, to sum it up in a sentence, this is a brilliant novel, beautifully written, about a father exploring grief.
Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos
Sonia Nair, writing for Australian Book Review:
Reminiscent of works such as Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings (2013) that interrogate the pursuit of specialness, Lucky’s is concerned with the stories we tell ourselves and the chasm between fact and fiction, the space where happiness may lie. One lasting preoccupation of the book, and its characters, is how extraordinariness may reside in ‘the glory of a lie that was as meaningful as the truth’.
The Inland Sea, by Madeleine Watts
On the whole, The Inland Sea is an eloquently written story about finding refuge in a world teetering on the brink of catastrophe, one that highlights the chaos and fear around us, but demonstrates that we all need to take personal responsibility for our own actions and our own safety. It’s a powerful read.
The Labyrinth, by Amanda Lohrey
The possibility of “reversible destiny” and fraught relationships between sons and their parents are explored within the branches of Erica’s new community and the tantalising, indelible boundaries of the labyrinth. In this fine, sensory work Amanda Lohrey spins imagination, ideas and humanity into a refuge.
The Rain Heron, by Robbie Arnott
Written like a dark fairy tale, a haunted forest where death has made its home, and with an elegant, careful touch of Magical Realism, The Rain Heron is one of the best, most original novels of the year.
And to conclude…
Is the brouhaha surrounding the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and literary awards in general, boring you to tears? Australian writer and critic David Free empathises. In fact he had a close brush with one such award: he was invited to join the judging panel.
As a literary critic, I suppose I should be at least mildly interested in what the judges’ verdict will be. But I’ve always found it hard to get excited about such questions. To care who wins them, you have to take literary prizes seriously in the first place. And I don’t. I think they’re a terrible idea all round.