Exciting writing news

June 1, 2020

Times are tough for our creative industries, but there are still good news stories to be found. In addition to our latest funding recipients and the winners of the ABIAs, here are some other positive announcements coming out of the arts sector. 

2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist

Ten authors have been longlisted for Australia’s most prestigious literary prize.

The Miles Franklin Literary Award was established by author and feminist Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, best known for her acclaimed novel My Brilliant Career. It celebrates novels of the highest literary merit that tell stories about Australian life, with the winner receiving $60,000 in prize money.

The longlisted authors for 2020 are:

  • Tony Birch, The White Girl (University of Queensland Press)
  • Melanie Cheng, Room for a Stranger (Text Publishing)
  • Peggy Frew, Islands (Allen & Unwin)
  • John Hughes, No One (UWA Publishing)
  • Anna Krien, Act of Grace (Black Inc.)
  • Gerald Murnane, A Season on Earth (Text Publishing)
  • Philip Salom, The Returns (Transit Lounge)
  • Carrie Tiffany, Exploded View (Text Publishing)
  • Tara June Winch, The Yield (Penguin Random House)
  • Charlotte Wood, The Weekend (Allen & Unwin)

Six of the ten – Birch, Frew, Murnane, Salom, Tiffany and Wood – have previously been shortlisted for the Award, while the remaining four – Cheng, Hughes, Krien and Winch – are making their Miles Franklin debut.

The longlist was judged by Mitchell Librarian (State Library of NSW) Richard Neville; journalist and author Murray Waldren; book critic Dr Melinda Harvey; bookseller Lindy Jones; and author and literary critic Dr Bernadette Brennan.

Mr Neville said: “This year’s Miles Franklin longlist is a mix of established and newer Australian authors. Their novels give voice to a diversity of Australian characters whose common feature is their location on the margins, whether geographical, familial or societal.

“They explore the ripples and repercussions of childhood trauma, the healing power of friendship, and the unshakeable presence of the past.”

The Miles Franklin shortlist will be announced on 16 June. Copyright Agency partners with Perpetual, the Trustee of the Award, to program and announce the shortlisted authors with enhanced media coverage through the ABC.

Read more on Perpetual’s website.

2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award longlist. Photo courtesy of Perpetual Ltd.

Emerging culture critics

Five new critics will provide extra books, visual arts and theatre coverage for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in 2020.

Thanks to the partnership between the Copyright Agency and the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas, the mastheads were able to hire new critical voices to “significantly increase the number and range of nationally published reviews and criticism of new Australian books and writing, plays, and art exhibitions.”

Those voices belong to:

  • Bec Kavanagh, a Melbourne-based writer and academic
  • Jack Callil, a Melbourne-based editor and writer (currently the digital editor for the Australian Book Review)
  • Chloe Wolifson, a Sydney-based arts writer, researcher and curator (currently a columnist for Art Monthly Australasia)
  • Tiarney Miekus, a Melbourne-based writer, musician and broadcaster (currently the editor of Art Guide Australia)
  • Cassie Tongue, a Sydney-based theatre critic and arts writer

Books will be reviewed by Kavanagh and Callil, visual arts by Wolifson (Herald) and Miekus (Age) and theatre by Tongue (Herald).

Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling said: “The current crisis has shown just how fragile and important Australian writing and visual arts practice is.

“While things are very grim for creators at the moment, the new critics will look at ways of covering Australian creativity during this terrible crisis. But they will also be in place for when – and I hope this is very soon – it is safe for Australian audiences to return to physical book launches, plays and shows at galleries.”

Read more from the Herald, WAtoday or Books+Publishing.

Jack Callil (by Elenore Holmes)

Chloe Wolifson (by Ann Fletcher)

Tiarney Miekus

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