60 years ago, author Miles Franklin had a vision: to advance and better Australian literature. As the shortlist for the 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award is revealed, it’s fair to say Miles herself would be delighted to see five first-time nominees, each with their own distinct voice and writing style, recognised in the Award’s jubilee year.

Announced Sunday 18 June, by Perpetual and Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, the shortlist gives readers an emotional and entertaining insight into Australian life.

The 2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist is:

  • AN ISOLATED INCIDENT by Emily Maguire (Pac Macmillan Australia): An intriguing exploration of two women, a murder, and media and masculinity set in a tough regional town.
  • THE LAST DAYS OF AVA LANGDON by Mark O’Flynn (University of Queensland Press): A warmly empathetic portrayal of a misunderstood but spirited outsider who refuses to concede to society’s conventional expectations.
  • THEIR BRILLIANT CAREERS by Ryan O’Neill (Black Inc): A rich and entertaining satire featuring 15 biographies of imagined Australian writers whose bizarre and exaggerated lives are neatly slotted into real literary history.
  • WAITING by Philip Salom (Puncher & Wattmann): A deftly executed and very human novel about a pair of odd couples, who are both waiting for something or someone to change their lives.
  • EXTINCTIONS by Josephine Wilson (UWA Publishing): A clever and compassionate novel exploring ageing, adoption, grief and remorse, rescue and resistance to rescue.

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, State Library of NSW Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville, said: “Like all great literature, the five novels on the 2017 Miles Franklin shortlist explore the restorative power of love, the pernicious influence of the past upon the present, the tragedy of the present avoiding the past, the challenge of unconventional identities, the interweaving of lives across communities, the devastation of grief, and the warzone that is the media, masculinity and a small country town.

“Yet again the shortlist celebrates the diversity of voices and approaches to writing about Australian life. None of these novels draw on familiar tropes of Australian literature – yet each brings a distinctive pitch of truth and insight into the Australian experience.”

Mr Neville was joined on the judging panel by The Australian journalist and columnist, Murray Waldren, Sydney bookseller, Lindy Jones, book critic Dr Melinda Harvey and Emeritus Professor, Susan Sheridan.

Perpetual’s National Manager of Philanthropy, Caitriona Fay, congratulated the shortlisted authors.

“Sixty years after the award was established, the Australian literary community continues to thrive as a result of the trailblazing philanthropic endeavour of Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin.

“I’d like to congratulate the shortlisted authors, who through their commitment and dedication to the literary community not only provide Australian readers with a must-read list of novels, but also continue the Miles Franklin legacy.”

The Copyright Agency’s Chief Executive, Adam Suckling, said: “We are so pleased to be supporting Australian writing through our longstanding Cultural Fund partnership. It’s always a joy to open the cover on a new reading experience and these five novelists have developed enticing and beautiful stories. In this 60th year especially, Miles Franklin would be pleased.”

Each of the 2017 shortlisted authors receives $5,000 from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund in recognition of their achievements.

The 2017 winner, to be announced on 7 September at the State Library of New South Wales, will receive $60,000.

For further information about the Miles Franklin Literary Award, visit http://www.milesfranklin.com.au/

For enquiries related to The Miles Franklin Literary Award, Perpetual, Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund or to request an interview with finalists or judges please contact:

Jane Morey, Morey Media: jane@moreymedia.com.au