It’s true: the 2021 Miles Franklin Award longlist was announced today and At the Edge of the Solid World is one of the dozen titles on it. I’m honoured and humbled to see my novel receive a place on the longlist, and hopefully some fresh wind in its sails. Aside from that, I’ll say no more except to drop in here a response I was asked to give in the event of media interest:
As an expatriate author writing a book about an expatriate experience, I often felt at a distance from Australia’s literary scene and riddled with doubts about whether my work would really speak to readers in Australia. So, for me, this longlisting is both an unexpected honour and a reassurance that that experience — of uprootedness, of voluntary outsiderness — can indeed be a meaningful aspect of Australian life in its current phase.
The shortlist announcement is scheduled for June 16.
Here in Australia the nation’s most prestigious literary award has just gone to Peter Temple’s Truth: a crime novel. James Bradley at city of tongues offers an intelligent and articulate response to the subsequent controversy:
Truth is basically a crime novel, and therefore a piece of genre fiction. That’s not to say it’s not an extremely good crime novel, but it’s still a crime novel, and operates within the conventions and constraints of the genre. And that, in turn, makes it an unusual choice for an award like the Miles Franklin, which has traditionally been reserved for literary fiction.
Less articulate is the response on offer at Crikey‘s Culture Mulcher blog, and particularly the responses to that response in the comments section of the blog. For example, Lucy Sussex:
I have been saying for ages that the best crime novels are about the only novels that depict modern society well — they are Dickensian in a way so-called literary novels are not. In fact, if I have a novel for review by someone I have never heard of, it is most likely to be good if it is crime. The percentage of quality is just higher.
Of course! “Dickensian” — that’s how novels are supposed to be, isn’t it? “Depict modern society well” — that’s what novels are supposed to do, isn’t it? I mean: if you crave an accurate and multifaceted depiction of modern society in all its complexity and intricacy, what better place to find it than in a work of imaginative fiction? Continue reading →