Friday, June 23, 2006

2006 Miles Franklin Literary Award: Results

“A novel needs a story like music needs notes: it’s what sweeps people up and carries them along and everything else—the beauty of the words, the ideas, the psychological insights—exists only because of the storytelling. But for a writer, if a book isn’t read, it doesn’t live; it’s like keeping a painting in a dark room.” Roger McDonald

AUSTRALIAN novelist Roger McDonald has been declared the winner of the 2006 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia’s premier but most controversial literary prize, for his book, The Ballad of Desmond Kale (Vintage/Random House Australia, 2005), a rollicking saga set during the advent of British settlement in Australia and the beginnings of Australia’s wool trade. Heartiest congratulations! The judges called it “... a historical novel in a grand, operatic style, an affectionate and bravura performance by a novelist at the height of his powers. As the ‘ballad’ suggests, we are meant to recognise its literary artifice and to give ourselves [over] to its rollicking, sometimes whimsical style of myth-making.”

It has been said that readership of the literary novel in Australia has been in decline for years, and some go so far as to suggest that the literary novel is in the throes of death in Australia. Many of the novels shortlisted for the 2006 Miles Franklin Literary Award have all the ingredients that make a novel good: strong narrative arcs, a keen sense of theatre, deft portraiture, and a delight in research that enrich the storylines.

McDONALD Roger [1941-] Novelist, poet. Born Roger Hugh McDonald in Young, New South Wales, Australia. Novels The Ballad of Desmond Kale (2005: winner of the 2006 Miles Franklin Literary Award); Mr Darwin’s Shooter (1998); The Slap (1996); Water Man (1993); Flynn (1992); Rough Wallaby (1989); Melba (1988); Slipstream (1982); 1915 (1979) Poetry Airship (1975); Citizens of Mist (1968) Nonfiction The Tree in Changing Light (2001); Shearers’ Motel (1992); Reflecting Labor: Images of Myth and Origin Over 100 Years (1991); Mike Willesee’s Australians (1988) Edited Gone Bush (1990); The First Paperback Poets Anthology (1974)


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