Thursday, March 12, 2009

Miles Franklin longlist: how wrong can you be?

Well. There goes my cred.

Utterly contrary to my predictions -- and my confidently nominated winner hasn't even made the longlist -- here is the actual longlist for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award:

Breath - Tim Winton
A Fraction Of The Whole - Steve Toltz
The Devil's Eye - Ian Townsend
Ice - Louis Nowra
Addition - Toni Jordan
Fugitive Blue - Clare Thomas
One Foot Wrong - Sofie Laguna
The Pages - Murray Bail
The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas
Wanting - Richard Flanagan

More in a bit.

22 comments:

klaus k said...

You did get 6/10 (if I'm counting right)... better than 0/1 :(

Ariel said...

I liked your winner a lot. And prefer your choice to the judges'.

No Spare Room?!?!

Fine said...

So, who's your pick for the winner now?

Jonathan Shaw said...

Six out of ten ain't bad.

Ampersand Duck said...

Poor old Spare Room probably suffered the fate of movies that are released close after the Oscars -- just too long ago for people to think of them as fresh.

I still think you did well in your guess, too. And now I've got a really good reading list.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I'm guessing (and it is no more than a guess) that The Spare Room might have been condemned by at least one judge -- not thinking of anyone in particular -- for its openly identified (by the author) basis in real-life characters and events. If this was indeed a consideration, then it's probably what wiped Kate Grenville out as well. And don't underestimate the residual literary/intellectual animus against Garner over The First Stone and ditto Grenville over that more recent history/fiction debate/debacle. Bear in mind that when even just one judge absolutely puts his or her foot down, it's very unlikely that a book can come back from there. And if one argument gets used to damn or praise one book, then obviously the same argument must be respected if another judge uses it about another book. I learned this lesson the hard way in 1986 when I was young and stupid.

Fine, I know little or nothing about some of the books on this list so would never attempt to pick. Winton is undoubtedly a huge talent and Breath is technically a good novel but I personally found its subject matter icky and its basic premise ideologically repellent, and was disappointed that after an absolutely cracking start it reverted to Winton's usual obsession with swimming and surfing, with the usual chucking in of a female character to blame for everything.

I've reviewed Addition and it is indeed very good but probably not winner material. Maybe The Slap will get up after all! Thanks to Perry at Matilda, we now also know that it's just won the regional Commonwealth Writers Prize, so Christos is doing well so far.

Elsewhere007 said...

Well, that's the unpredictable world of literary prize-giving, I guess.

I didnt think The Slap was that well-written (i.e. literary enough for the MFA), although I enjoyed it very much.

Anonymous said...

I liked your list much better. Coy Lurker

Anonymous said...

Goldsworthy: 1, Middlemiss: 0

You picked 6/10 and I got a grand total of four: Winton, Jordan, Tsiolkas and Flanagan. That gets you one bottle up.

May I suggest a second round wherein we get to choose a new set of six for the shortlist based on the current longlist as published. A tie-break can be determined by checking against our original choices.

Told you I was going to get thrashed.

Perry Middlemiss

Ariel said...

'I'm guessing (and it is no more than a guess) that The Spare Room might have been condemned by at least one judge -- not thinking of anyone in particular -- for its openly identified (by the author) basis in real-life characters and events.'

Seconding that guess - that was my thought on noticing its omission.

I personally think The Slap is the best book on the list, but I see Elsewhere's point about the writing - not particularly literary, and not as tight as Dead Europe. It is a brilliant (and very enjoyable) social novel, though, and I'd kind of like to see it win.

The writing in One Foot Wrong is incredibly impressive. A bleak, disturbing, confronting book, but viscerally so.

Miss Schlegel said...

I vote for A Fraction of the Whole. Wait, do I get a vote? Well blast their hides — I'm Australian aren't I!

PC: "Breath is technically a good novel..." This damning-with-faint-praise so says it all — I totally agree. Although it wasn't the subject matter that disturbed me (in fact I liked that), it was the novel's stubborn refusal to sing.

Pavlov's Cat said...

By the 'subject matter' I meant about the (ho hum) corruption of innocent young lad by wicked bitter-and-twisted Eve-like temptress, which was what I found icky, rather than the autoerotic asphyxiation business which I agree was interesting, or whatsisname's job as a paramedic which I thought was absolutely fascinating. Hundreds of pages about surfing is something that one can take or leave.

About singing -- I think that's more about subjective response. The novel clearly sang a siren song for some people; some of the reviews were rapturous.

Lovely to see you back, Miss S, BTW.

Lefty E said...

I'm not too surprised too see Peter Carey's latest didn't make the cut. Not a fan of it.

WV: froodist. Is this a person wearing only fruit? If so, I'm interested.

Bernice said...

Slap, slap, slap - the sound of one hand clapping?

skepticlawyer said...

I think you did very well in the betting stakes, and may want to consider running a book in future years ;)

Anonymous said...

The Devil's Eye was impressive. Might be a dark horse here.

Lucy Sussex

Nabakov said...

Interesting how many of 'em use just one noun (or a verb that could also work as a noun) in the title.

Someone with far more time on their hands than I do could carry out an interesting study about the changing nature of novel titles as cross-referenced by shifting economic and demographic climates.

Right now, short or abrupt seems to be quite gestalty.

Like a captcha.

genevieve said...

One Foot Wrong I must now look at, thank you A.
Has anyone read Ice?
and ditto, shame Australia shame about TSR.

*capping*

Anonymous said...

And Fugitive Blue is a beautiful book, amazing debut. So glad to see it being noticed. Read that one too, Genevieve!

Feral Sparrowhawk said...

"And don't underestimate the residual literary/intellectual animus against Garner over The First Stone"

Yes that way my first thought. I have no idea who the judges are, but its not impossible that some of them actually knew some of the women involved in the case, including some of the particularly vicious aspects of The First Stone that never got mainstream coverage. Even if not, I'd think there is a fair chance that one or more judges is from the generation of women who felt like Garner was launching a full blooded attack on them.

One can see it either as a terrible case of unfair bias or chickens coming home to roost.

Pavlov's Cat said...

FS, I might leave that one alone. I've said everything I have to say about TFS in my little book on Garner and her work. Re the judges, I know (or know of) all of them and the short answer is no, but on the other hand people took sides way beyond those who were immediately implicated, particularly within the academy.

Anonymous said...

The shortlist is out tomorrow. Time for your novel choices. I've gone for 6, as that seems to be the standard number.

Perry Middlemiss