‘Summer Reading Sorted’, by Miles Franklin


Perpetual Private Insights

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For many of us, summer seems to be the season where we get a chance to work through the list of books we’ve been meaning to read all year. If you’re still looking for suggestions for your summer reading list, we’ve got 10 award winning options for you.

As Trustee for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, we are lucky enough to read some of the best Australian books every year (see the shortlist below). But great books are timeless, and as the Miles Franklin award has been running for more than 60 years, we have an extensive wealth of books to draw from. Each year, the prize is awarded to a novel of the highest literary merit which presents Australian life in any of its forms.

A selection of great Miles Franklin winners from the backlist

It’s hard to narrow down a shortlist and as every Miles Franklin winner is a great book we’re not going to call this a ‘best of’ list. It is, however, a fantastic selection of books which, if you read them, will enliven your summer and enhance your appreciation of Australia.

  • VOSS, by Patrick White.
    The inaugural winner in 1957 (White also won for Riders in the Chariot in 1961). It’s the story of a secret, passionate relationship between an explorer, Voss, who sets off across the Australian continent while young Laura waits for him in Sydney.
  • DRYLANDS, by Thea Astley.
    Winner of four Miles Franklins (the others are The Well Dressed Explorer, The Acolyte, The Slow Natives), this is Astley’s last winner and one of her most popular and best-known books out of a prolific career. This story of a small Australian town slowly surrendering to drought is full of her trademark dense, rich prose, wit, and outrage at humanity’s folly.
  • CLOUDSTREET by Tim Winton.
    Also a four-time winner (Shallows, Dirt Music, Breath) any of them are worthy, however this sprawling, funny epic about two rural families thrust together in a ramshackle Sydney house is perhaps his best and best known.
  • TO THE ISLANDS by Randolph Stow.
    An often-overlooked novel, but one which skilfully brings 1950s Outback Australia to life through powerful, poetic prose. Set in an Anglican mission in far North-Western Australia, a violent incident brings tensions in the community to light and makes readers examine Australia’s racist past.

2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist

As in other years, 2019 was hotly contested and packed full of great novels. While Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip won this year’s award any of this year’s shortlist deserve a place on your summer reading list:


TOO MUCH LIP by Melissa Lucashenko
(The University of Queensland Press)

Wise-cracking Kerry Slater has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley. With plans to spend 24 hours, tops, over the border, she quickly realises that family and Bundjalung country have other plans. Melissa has been previously longlisted for the Miles Franklin with Mullumbimby in 2014.


THE LEBS by Michael Mohammed Ahmad
(Hachette Australia)

This coming-of-age novel explores the life of Bani Adam, as he grows up in Sydney’s western suburbs in a post 9/11 political climate. Bani has to negotiate his sense of identity and belonging in this hostile, confusing world, while dreaming of so much more.


A SAND ARCHIVE by Gregory Day
(Picador Australia)

Seeking stories of Australia’s Great Ocean Road, a young writer stumbles across a manual from a minor player in the road’s history, engineer FB Herschell. The slim, grey volume appears unremarkable, but it paints a surprising portrait of its author between the lines.


A STOLEN SEASON by Rodney Hall
(Picador Australia)

This novel explores the stories of three people whose lives have been changed profoundly by war, men and money, and their experiences of a period of life they never thought possible.


(Text Publishing)

Having just returned from a trip to Sicily, art historian Noah Glass is discovered floating face down in the swimming pool at his Sydney apartment. Complicating matters, a sculpture has gone missing from a museum in Palermo, and Noah is a suspect. His children Martin and Evie must come to terms with their father’s death in this novel of grief, loss and artistic contemplation. Gail has previously been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin for Sixty Lights (2006), Dreams of Speaking (2007), Sorry (2008) and longlisted for Five Bells (2012).


DYSCHRONIA by Jennifer Mills
(Picador Australia)

One morning, the residents of a small coastal town somewhere in Australia wake to discover the sea has disappeared. One among them has been plagued by troubling visions of this cataclysm for years. Is she a prophet? Does she have a disorder that skews her perception of time? Or is she a gifted and compulsive liar?

A time to reflect – and consider your legacy

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 over 1,000 charitable trusts and endowments holding over $2.9 billion in funds and distributing over $75 million annually (as at 30 June 2019). 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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Perpetual Private advice and services are provided by Perpetual Trustee Company Limited (PTCo) ABN 42 000 001 007, AFSL 236643. This information was prepared by PTCo. It contains general information only and is not intended to provide you with financial advice or take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider, with a financial adviser, who can provide you with the relevant Financial Services Guide, whether the information is suitable for your circumstances. To the extent permitted by law, no liability is accepted for any loss or damage because of any reliance on this information.