Miles Franklin 2022: Shortlist Revealed for Prestigious Australian Literary Award

For the first time in the award’s 65-year history, a self-published book has been nominated for the Miles Franklin, with Michael Winkler’s cult hit Grimmish clearing the final hurdle before Australia’s most prestigious literary award is announced on July 20.

Announced Thursday night, Grimmish joins Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s The Other Half of You, Michelle de Kretser’s Scary Monsters, Jennifer Down’s Bodies of Light and Alice Pung’s One Hundred Days to compete for the $60,000 prize.

Winkler’s “exploded nonfiction novel” Grimmish was called “tiring” and “repulsive” by the publishers he approached, according to the author’s interview with Guardian Australia last week: “Everyone said there was no way they could sell it.”

But the book—an experimental, meta, sort of biography of boxer Joe Grim, starting with a fake review and questioning itself everywhere—made its way to readers through indie bookstores, acclaimed critics, and word of mouth. It also received praise from writers such as Helen Garner, Murray Bail and JM Coetzee.

In their comments on the Miles Franklin shortlist, the judges described it as an “unusual novel that is alternately playful, funny, heartfelt and deeply thoughtful… Bold and hilarious, Grimmish is a uniquely witty and original contribution to Australian literature. “

Also on the shortlist is Scary Monsters by Michelle de Kretser, a book that actually consists of two books, with a different cover on each side that you can read in any order. De Kretser is one of Australia’s most celebrated authors, winning the Miles Franklin in 2013 (Questions of Travel) and 2018 (The Life to Come). The jury described Scary Monsters, her seventh novel, as “a witty, closely watched and courageously imaginative work that opposes racism, ageism and misogyny”.

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Michael Mohammed Ahmed is the other half of you is the third installment of a car fictional series that explores the life of a young Muslim boy in western Sydney named Bani Adam. In The Other Half of You, which is a sequel to The Lebs’ shortlisted Miles Franklin and Ahmed’s first novel The Tribe, Bani is now a man; the book takes the form of his “body bruises, soul-burning confession to a child”, according to the judges, who hailed it as “the howl of an Australian voice striving to be heard”.

Jennifer Down’s light bodies tells the devastating story of a life on the fringes, beginning with a five-year-old girl’s harrowing journey through the state health care system. The book is told by an “amazing voice that reinvents itself from six to sixty years,” according to the jury. “With ethical rigor, Down urges that we do not look away from the destructive effects of…decades spent in the shadows of institutionalized neglect, socially sanctioned loneliness, unforgivable poverty, and the abuse that comes with it.”

Completion of the shortlist is One Hundred Days by Alice Pung, who this year received an Order of Australia for his services to literature. The novel follows a 16-year-old girl who becomes pregnant and is imprisoned 100 days before birth by her Filipino-born Chinese mother in her flat in front of a housing commission – a tradition of postpartum incarceration in many cultures, which can be read as both an act of love or an act of emotional abuse.

“Within this story, maternal practices transcend the ordinary and intimate, and instead become an epic site of intergenerational cultural battle between mother and daughter,” said the jury. “Pung has bestowed upon us a novel of national importance, by making visible the stories of those deemed powerless and by vividly modeling the mosaic of Australian literature.”

The Miles Franklin is judged by a panel composed of literary critics Bernadette Brennan and James Ley, literary scholar Mridula Nath Chakraborty, and author and editor Elfie Shiosaki. The panel will be chaired by Richard Neville, the Mitchell librarian at the State Library of NSW, who praised the shortlist for its “set of dynamic and diverse voices that explore the experience of pain, intergenerational trauma and intergenerational dialogue with compassion, exceptional craftsmanship and rigorous unsentimentality.” “.

Earlier this month the Miles Franklin Prize drew The Dogs by John Hughes from the 2022 longlist, after Hughes apologized for plagiarizing parts of it from a Nobel laureate “without realizing it,” as discovered in a Guardian Australia investigation† Later, more cases of apparent plagiarism were found, including from The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina and All Quiet on the Western Front† Hughes has denied that he is a plagiarism

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