Memories of Miles

As we celebrate 60 years of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, we ask our 2017 finalists to nominate their favourite past winners or shortlisted works.  Here’s what they had to say.



I was delighted when Frank Moorhouse won for Dark Palace in 2001. His Edith Campbell Berry trilogy, of which Dark Palace is the second book, is phenomenal and very important to me as a writer and personally. More recently, Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance is a book I borrowed from the library because it was on the shortlist and I found it so moving and so innovative that I immediately bought a copy of my own. I’ve since had to replace it several times because I push it on others to read so often. Oh, and I read and adored Sofie Laguna’s Eye of the Sheep before it was published and when it won in 2015 I was almost as happy as if I’d won myself.


I remember being very moved by David Malouf’s The Great World, and also Elizabeth Jolley’s The Well. More recently Tim Winton’s Breath changed the way I looked at his work. Going back a bit I’ve enjoyed Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda, George Johnston’s My Brother Jack, and Patrick White’s Riders in the Chariot, among many others.



One of my favourite memories of the award was my friend A.S. Patric winning the Miles Franklin last year for his novel Black Rock White City. I had read the book before it was published and knew how good it was, and I also knew how difficult it had been for Alec to find a publisher for it, so to see Alec win was a wonderful moment. Other winning, or shortlisted, works I have really enjoyed are Eucalyptus by Murray Ball, The Secret River by Kate Grenville and Wild Surmise by Dorothy Porter.



Like a lot of readers I take special notice of the winning book and usually read it. While I’m a great fan of Patrick White, who won the inaugural prize, more recently I have hugely admired Benang and That Deadman Dance, both extraordinary winners, by Kim Scott, and also a powerful and timely book: Michelle de Kretser’s Questions of Travel. Books like these read through us from exactingly different points of view; they are also great writing.



In terms of memories of past winners, I think of Peter Carey’s Bliss (the book and the film), Elizabeth Jolley’s The Well, and of Andrew McGahan (who had written the wonderful Praise, which became a great film). I read David Malouf. I read West Australian writers Randolf Stow, Robert Drewe, Tim Winton, Kim Scott, Brenda Walker. Gail Jones was my first supervisor at the beginning of my PhD, and I have known Deborah Robertson since my early twenties.

To view the full list of Miles Franklin Literary Award winning books, click here.

This article is based on interviews conducted by Simon Clark at The AU Review.

To read the original posts, click here: 

Meet the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award Shortlist (Part 1): Emily Maguire and Mark O’Flynn

Meet the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award Shortlist (Part 2): Ryan O’Neill, Philip Salom and Josephine Wilson