Michelle de Kretser’s The Life to Come wins the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award

August 27, 2018

Michelle de Kretser has won the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel The Life to Come, published by Allen & Unwin. This win makes her the third woman in the Award’s 61-year history to win the top prize more than once. Michelle’s previous win was in 2013 for her novel Questions of Travel.

Michelle joins a select group of female multi-Award winners, including Thea Astley who won the Miles Franklin four times (1962, 1965, 1972, 2000) and Jessica Anderson who won the Award twice (1978,1980).

When describing how it feels to win the Miles Franklin for a second time, Michelle said: “I feel twice as lucky, twice as happy, and twice as honoured.”

The Miles Franklin Literary Award, recognised as Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, was established in 1954 through the will of My Brilliant Career author, Stella Maria Miles Franklin. The award is presented to novels of the “highest literary merit” that depict “Australian life in any of its phases”. Perpetual serves as Trustee for the Award.

Michelle receives $60,000 in prize money. Her novel was selected from a remarkable shortlist, including: Felicity Castagna’s No More Boats, Eva Hornung’s The Last Garden, Catherine McKinnon’s Storyland, Gerald Murnane’s Border Districts and Kim Scott’s Taboo.

When describing this year’s winning novel, the judges said The Life to Come was a powerful novel that effortlessly blends sharp satire of the literary world with deeply compassionate portraits of lonely people and their strategies for survival.

“Sentence-by-sentence, it is elegant, full of life and funny. With her characteristic wit and style, Michelle de Kretser dissects the way Australians see ourselves, and reflects on the ways other parts of the world see us,” said chair of the judging panel and State Library of NSW Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville.

Richard Neville was joined on the 2018 judging panel by The Australian journalist and columnist, Murray Waldren, Sydney bookseller Lindy Jones, book critic Dr Melinda Harvey and Emeritus Professor Susan Sheridan.

Michelle de Kretser accepting the 2018 Miles Franklin Award. Photo: Peter Marko

Perpetual’s National Manager of Philanthropy, Caitriona Fay, said: “Perpetual has a long and proud history of helping philanthropists affect real change – change that can last for generations.

“The Miles Franklin Literary Award has been supporting authors since 1957. It continues to support and shape the Australian literary landscape and broader community. We are honoured to carry on Miles Franklin’s legacy, and I congratulate all of this year’s finalists for ensuring Miles’ passion endures.”

Adam Suckling, Chief Executive of The Copyright Agency, a long-term sponsor of the Award, said: “We are deeply committed to supporting Australian writers and publishers to ensure our uniquely Australian stories continue to be told, We are delighted by Michelle de Kretser’s win. I also want to congratulate the other finalists as it is an impressive achievement to be shortlisted for this prestigious award that goes from strength to strength each year.”

The award was announced at the 2018 Melbourne Writers Festival on 26 August. When accepting the award, De Kretser used her speech to draw attention to the ongoing suffering of asylum-seekers in the detention centres at Manus Island and Nauru, reading the names of all the detainees that have died there since 2013.

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