Miles Franklin Literary Award nominates only women for potential winners

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Announced yesterday in Sydney, the shortlist for Australia's most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, includes only women for the first time in the award's history. The award had been criticized in the past for its exclusion of women on the short list, with no women appearing on it in 2009 and 2011.

This year's authors on the short list include Romy Ash for Floundering, Michelle de Kretser for Questions of Travel, Annah Faulkner for The Beloved, Drusilla Modjeska for The Mountain, and Carrie Tiffany for Mateship with Birds. The winner gets a cash prize of AU$60,000.

Judges said the shortlist selection was based on the quality of the literature, with gender not playing a role in their decision processes. Richard Neville, a librarian at the State Library of New South Wales and judge, is quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald saying, "People will probably think this is a riposte to the Stella Prize, [..] But I've judged this for four years, including the infamous year of the 'sausage fest', and we always try to view the books as literature. We felt the books on the shortlist selected themselves." File:Brian Castro2.jpg

Brian Castro in 2010
Image: Phoebird89.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

The longlist, announced in the last week of March, included two men out of ten total listed authors: Brian Castro for Street to Street, and Thomas Keneally for The Daughters of Mars.

Perceived discrimination against women's writers in Australian literary circles led to the creation this year of the Stella Prize. The chair of the Australia Council’s Literature Board Sophie Cunningham played an integral role in creating the Stella Prize, modeled after the United Kingdom's Orange Prize. The award derives its name from Miles Franklin's birth name, Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin.

The winner is scheduled to be announced on June 19 in Canberra.