Thursday, March 15, 2007

Miles Franklin: isn't this an awfully short longlist?

Only eight books (compared to last year's twelve) have made the cut this year onto the Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist, announced today. They are

Peter Carey: Theft: A Love Story
John Charalambous: Silent Parts
Richard Flanagan: The Unknown Terrorist
Sandra Hall: Beyond The Break
Gail Jones: Dreams Of Speaking
Kate Legge: The Unexpected Elements Of Love
Deborah Robertson: Careless
Alexis Wright: Carpentaria

To my mind the most arresting thing about this list is that it doesn't include former winner Andrew McGahan's Underground, a funny, angry dystopia about Australia in the near future. I thought it was a good book within the parmeters of its generic aspirations (or, as a Margaret Drabble character with curly red hair, high cheekbones and big eyes says somewhere, probably in The Gates of Ivory, 'I was a great beauty, in my genre'); maybe not the kind of book that actually wins major fiction prizes, but I'm very surprised not to see it even on the longlist.

And if Peter Carey wins for Theft, the game's crook.

UPDATE, 16/3: Carpentaria, Careless and Theft: A Love Story were all on the shortlist for the Commonwealth Writers Prize Regional Best Book Award but were beaten to it today by New Zealander Lloyd Jones, who has a number of substantial novels to his credit and has had lots of good press for the novel he won this prize with, Mr Pip, reviewed here. (NB that shocking grammatical error in the third to last paragraph was introduced by a sub-editor. Just so you know.)


Mindy said...

Is Theft the one that supposedly about his ex-wife?

Mindy said...

'is supposedly'. Is supposedly a word or did I just make that up?

Pavlov's Cat said...

1) Yes.

2) Yes; no. (Yes but no but yes but ...)

elsewhere said...

You seem big on dystopia today.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I'd say it was a coincidence, but the idea of dystopia has been much on my mind since I was organising my ABR's on Wednesday (bookshelf overhaul) and happened to re-read the review I wrote last year of Underground, in which (the novel not the review), among other things, DIMA has changed its name by 2011 to the Department of Citizenship and this fact is supposed to be satire. McGahan thought it would take five years and it ended up taking five months. Dystopias are the new realism.

Either that or he's got a mole or six in Canberra.

Perry Middlemiss said...

So you're not keen on the Carey then?

I finished the Jones over the weekend and thought it flowed beautifully. I was certainly taken with the comparison between "the buzzing world" and "the floating world".

You were mighty impressed with the Wright so can I guess that would be your pick at this time?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Good question, Perry, but do you mean the one I like best or the one I think will win?

Not that I can answer either question, because I haven't read them all!

genevieve said...

Well, hurrah for Mr. Pip then. Though I want Carpentaria to win EVERYTHING.
(No italics today. No cultural studs neither.)
Someone in the payper somewhere says it is a 'dark' list. Perhaps that explains the exclusion of Underground - dark 'nuff already. Shame, though. I really liked that review of yours, PC, with the real telephone chat on the end of it.

Bernice said...

Go Alexis, go girl go.

Anonymous said...

And if The Unknown Terrorist wins anything, even a promotion to a shortlist, I'll just give up. Does anyone else think this is a terrible, cack-handed book?