Miles Franklin summer holiday reading list

Coffee and book

Perpetual Private Insights

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In a summer where you may not be able to travel as far as you’d like, let a good book take you to a new favourite destination.

As Trustee for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, we have some brilliant book recommendations for you to read by the light of the long summer nights.

2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist – and winner

Each year, the prize is awarded to a novel of the highest literary merit which presents Australian life in any of its forms.

Perpetual’s Managing Partner of Community and Social Investments, Caitriona Fay, congratulated the shortlisted authors. 

“More than 60 years after Stella Miles Franklin’s trailblazing philanthropic endeavour, the Miles Franklin Literary Award continues to allow the Australian literary community to thrive. As Trustee of the Award, Perpetual is incredibly proud to be involved in carrying out Stella’s enduring legacy. I’d like to congratulate the six shortlisted authors who, through their novels, offer important perspectives on Australian culture and society.”

The following stories made the shortlist for 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Tony Birch The White Girl

The White Girl by Tony Birch
University of Queensland Press

Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. When a new policeman arrives in town, determined to enforce the law, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves.

Peggy Frew Islands

Islands by Peggy Frew
Allen & Unwin

Helen and John are too preoccupied with making a mess of their marriage to notice the quiet ways in which their daughters are suffering. Junie grows up brittle and defensive, Anna difficult and rebellious. When fifteen-year-old Anna fails to come home one night, her mother's not too worried; Anna's taken off before but always returned. Helen waits three days to report her disappearance. But this time Anna doesn't come back...

Tara June Winch The Yield

The Yield by Tara June Winch
Penguin Random House

Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land – a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.

John Hughes No One

No one by John Hughes
UWA Publishing

In the ghost hours of a Monday morning a man feels a dull thud against the side of his car near the entrance to Redfern Station. He doesn’t stop immediately. By the time he returns to the scene, the road is empty, but there is a dent in the car, high up on the passenger door, and what looks like blood. Only a man could have made such a dent, he thinks. For some reason he looks up, though he knows no one is there. Has he hit someone, and if so, where is the victim?

Philip Salom The Returns

The Returns by Philip Salom
Transit Lounge

Elizabeth posts a 'room for rent' notice in Trevor's bookshop and is caught off-guard when Trevor answers the advertisement himself. She expected a young student not a middle-aged bookseller whose marriage has fallen apart. But Trevor is attracted to Elizabeth's house because of the empty shed in her backyard, the perfect space for him to revive the artistic career he abandoned years earlier. The face-blind, EH Holden-driving Elizabeth is a solitary and feisty book editor, and she accepts him, on probation...

Carrie Tiffany Exploded View

Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany
Text Publishing

In the late 1970s, in the forgotten outer suburbs, a girl has her hands in the engine of a Holden. A sinister new man has joined the family. He works as a mechanic and operates an unlicensed repair shop at the back of their block. The family is under threat. The girl reads the Holden workshop manual for guidance. She resists the man with silence, then with sabotage. She fights him at the place where she believes his heart lives – in the engine of the car.



And the winner is…


The Yield by Tara June Winch

The Yield by Tara June Winch

Tara joins a group of distinguished and revered alumni of Indigenous Miles Franklin prize winners, including last year’s winner Melissa Lucashenko (for Too Much Lip), Kim Scott (who shared the prize in 2000 for Benang, and won again in 2011 with That Deadman Dance) and Alexis Wright (for Carpentaria, 2007).

Watch more about all the shortlisted novels, as well as the winners’ announcement


Find out more about Perpetual and the Miles Franklin literary award as well as previous winners here


At Perpetual, we are proud of our role as Trustee of the Miles Franklin Literary Award. We are one of Australia’s largest managers and distributors of philanthropic funds, including acting as trustee for around 1,000 charitable trusts and endowments holding $2.9b in funds (as at 30 June 2020) and committing over $110 million in grants to the not-for-profit sector on behalf of our philanthropic clients in the 2020 financial year. If you’re thinking about giving this festive season, a Perpetual Foundation Endowment can be setup from an initial donation of as little as $20,000. To learn more, simply get in touch via the form below.

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