June 19th- Melbourne-based author Steven Carroll (left) has won Australia's currently most prestigious literary prize for his novel, The Time We Have Taken.
Carroll was awarded the $42,000 Miles Franklin Literary Award for his work, which the judges said was "moving and indelible in its evocation of the extraordinary in ordinary lives".
The Time We Have Taken is the third novel in a series that Carroll began with The Art of The Engine Driver and continued in The Gift Of Speed, both of which were shortlisted for the Miles Franklin.
All three works detail the life of an unnamed Melbourne suburb, from the 50s through to the 70s. The Time We Have Taken continues to enlarge upon the lives of Peter van Rijn, his wife Rita and their son Michael, who has now moved away from home.
As preparations get under way to celebrate the suburb's centenary, Carroll's central characters reminisce about the past, live in present and look to the future.
"What do they all make of their lives? Do they hear 'the music of the years'? Or are they deaf, missing the wonder of it? Carroll's novel is a poised, philosophically profound exploration of the question," the judging panel said.
Carroll's novel was selected ahead of a four-book shortlist which included works by Rodney Hall and Alex Miller, previous Miles Franklin winners.
Carroll says it is an honour to win.
"But it's also daunting to be joining a long list of authors whom you've either studied or admired for years," he said on accepting the award.
"The Miles Franklin comes with the gravitas of a whole literary tradition, and you feel that weight almost instantly."
The idea came for the trilogy came to him in a dream about his family walking down his street in the Melbourne suburb of Glenroy. He spent 10 years writing the books, all of which he hand wrote. He's now considering a fourth addition.
Carroll said he didn't think he would win this time around.
The author, who was in a rock band in the 1970s, plans to use the money to buy a Rickenbacker guitar, after he traded his in for an electric typewriter to kick start his career 30 years ago.
"It was one of these pivotal moments, life defining moments, it's got a real sadness to it," Carroll said.
"You can't buy your youth but you can buy back your Rickenbacker."
One of the judges, Morag Fraser, described this year's competition as "extreme" and "the most impressive" in history.
She said it was a difficult decision, but Carroll's novel won because of its consistency.
"He's looking at what most people would think was an unpromising suburban milieu and he turns it into this extraordinary fictionalised vibrant world, so that's very hard," Prof Fraser said.
"It's stylistically very unusual and stylistically very adventurous. He plays very risky games with narrative structure and with time."
About the Book
One summer morning in 1970, Peter van Rijn, proprietor of the television and wireless
shop, pronounces his Melbourne suburb one hundred years old. That same morning, Rita is awakened by a dream of her husband’s snores, yet it is years since Vic moved north. Their son, Michael, has left for the city, and is entering the awkward terrain of first love.
As the suburb prepares to celebrate progress, Michael’s friend Mulligan is commissioned
to paint a mural of the area’s history. But what vision of the past will his painting reveal?
Meanwhile, Rita’s sometime friend Mrs Webster confronts the mystery of her husband’s
death. And Michael discovers that innocence can only be sustained for so long.
The Time We Have Taken is both a meditation on the rhythms of suburban life and a
luminous exploration of public and private reckoning during a time of radical change.
About Steven Carroll
Steven Carroll was born in Melbourne. He was educated at La Trobe University and taught English in high schools before playing in bands in the 1970s. After leaving the music scene he began writing as a playwright and became the theatre critic for the Sunday Age.
His first novel, Remember Me, Jimmy James, was published in 1992. This was followed by Momoko (1994), The Love Song of Lucy McBride (1998), and then The Art of the Engine Driver (2001) and The Gift of Speed (2004), shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2002 and 2005, respectively. The Art of the Engine Driver was also shortlisted in 2005 for the Prix Femina, France’s prestigious literary award for the best foreign novel. Steven Carroll lives in Melbourne with his partner and son
2008 Shortlist- Then there Were Five- But How Strong They Are........
17th April- The judges could only let go of four out of the nine long listed titles for this years award suggesting a strong field. Two previous winners, , Alex Miller (2003, Journey to the Stone Country, 1993, The Ancestor Game) and Rodney Hall ( 1994 The Grisly Wife, 1982 - Just Relations), are now up for a hatrick . Alex Milllers' hope lies with the powerful Landscape of Farewell whilst Mr. Hall's, Love Without Hope, which tells the story of Laura Shoddy - a woman wrongly committed to a mental asylum, has also made the cut.
Gail Jones continues to grow in stature. Currently shortlisted for the world's richest literary prize, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Dreams of Speaking (also short listed for last years Miles) , Ms. Jones now has a fine chance of winning the prize for the first time with Sorry. She is a previous winner of both the South Australian Premier's and Western Australian Premier's Prizes for Sixty Lights (short listed for Miles in 2005).
First time nominee, David Brooks, who teaches Australian Literature at Sydney University, will take the podium with a touch more authority when the new term starts. He has been short listed for The Fern Tattoo, a beguiling novel about the certainty of fate and the randomness of love.
The final contender is Steve Carroll's, The Time We Have Taken. Mr Carroll is no stranger to the Miles Franklin shortlist having been previously nominated for The Gift of Speed, 2005 and The Art of the Engine Driver in 2002. The latter, incidentally, was also short listed for the Prix Femina, France’s prestigious literary award for the best foreign novel.
A strong field indeed this year. The final five have been selected from a filed of 59 entrants for this years award. The winner will be announced at the NSW State Library on June 19th.
(these links below will take you to details about the shortlisted titles on this page)
- Landscape of Farewell- Alex Miller-
- Love without Hope- Rodney Hall --
- Sorry - Gail Jones
- The Time We Have Taken - Stephen Carroll
- The Fern Tattoo- David Brooks
A profound and moving story about the land, the past, exile and acceptance, this deeply intelligent and thoughtful novel is a worthy successor to Miller's much-loved and critically admired Journey to the Stone Country.
A hauntingly beautiful meditation on the land, the past, exile and friendship, Landscape of Farewell is the powerful new novel from acclaimed Australian author, Alex Miller.
It is the story of Max Otto, an elderly German academic. After the death of his much loved wife and his recognition that he will never write the great study of history that was to be his life's crowning work, Max believes his life is all but over. Everything changes, though, when his valedictory lecture is challenged by Professor Vita McLelland, a feisty young Australian Aboriginal academic visiting Germany. Their meeting and growing friendship sets Max on a journey that would have seemed unthinkable just a few short
When, at Vita's invitation, Max travels to Australia, he forms a deep friendship with her
uncle, Aboriginal elder Dougald Gnapun. It is a friendship that not only gives new
meaning and purpose to Max, but which teaches him the profound importance of truth telling
in reconciliation with his own and his country's past.
Following Alex Miller's Miles Franklin-winning Journey to the Stone Country, Landscape
of Farewell is a wise and grave novel of power, beauty and truth.
About Alex Miller
Alex Miller is one of Australia's best loved writers. He is twice winner of the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia's premier literary prize, the first occasion in 1993 for The Ancestor Game, and again in 2003 for Journey to the Stone Country. Conditions
of Faith, his fifth novel, was published in 2000 and won the Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the 2001 NSW Premiers Literary Awards. It was also nominated for the Dublin IMPAC International Literature Award, shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award in 2000, the Age Book of the Year Award and the Miles Franklin Award in 2001. He is also an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, for The Ancestor Game, in 1993.Miller's eighth novel, Landscape of Farewell, was published in 2007.
The elderly Mrs Shoddy suffers acute depression as a result of a bush fire that kills her beloved horses. A capable countrywoman, she loses her grip and is living in squalor when the district nurse finds her and has her committed to an insane asylum. The time is 1982; the place, a country town in NSW. The NSW Department of Lunacy is still in operation, headed by an official with the title The Master in Lunacy.
In this powerful novel, finding herself pitted against the power of the state, Mrs Shoddy calls on her memories of her missing husband, on the spirit of her horses and on the recovery of her self-respect and resilience to create a world in which she can remain sane, even against the institutional brutality she is subjected to. And the characters in her mind become as palpable as the real people she is surrounded by. A hymn of praise to human tenderness, the power of memory and the power of music,Love without Hope confirms Rodney Hall's status as one of Australia's finest
About Rodney Hall (left)
Rodney Hall is a novelist and a poet. His novels include Just Relations, Kisses of the Enemy, A Dream more Luminous than Love, The Island in the Mind, The Day We Had Hitler Home and The Last Love Story. He has twice been awarded the Miles Franklin Award, and has been honoured with membership of the Order of Australia. He lives in Box Hill North, Victoria.
This is a story that can only be told in a whisper...’
In the remote outback of North-west Australia, English anthropologist Nicholas Keene and his wife Stella raise a curious child, Perdita. Her childhood is far from ordinary; a shack in the wilderness, with a distant father burying himself in books and an unstable mother whose knowledge of Shakespeare forms the backbone of the girl's limited education. Emotionally adrift, Perdita develops a friendship with an Aboriginal girl, Mary, with whom she will share a very special bond. She appears content with her unusual family life in this remote corner of the globe until Nicholas Keene is discovered murdered. Through this exquisite story of a young girl's survival against the odds,
Gail Jones explores the values of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice with a skill that has already earned her numerous accolades for her previous novels Dreams of Speaking and Sixty Lights.
About Gail Jones
Gail Jones is the author of two collections of short stories, Fetish Lives and The House
of Breathing. Her first novel, Black Mirror, won the Nita B. Kibble Award and the Fiction Prize in the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards in 2003.
Her second novel, Sixty Lights, was long listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2004, shortlisted for the 2005 Miles Franklin Award, and won the 2005 Age Book of the Year Award for Fiction, and the Fiction and Premier's Prize in both the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards 2004 and the South Australian Festival Award for Literature in 2006 Dreams of Speaking has been shortlisted in 2007 for the Miles Franklin Award, the NSW Premier's Award and the Nita B. Kibble Award.
‘Evidently she knew who I was, or thought she did, since I had apparently needed no
introduction and certainly hadn’t received one… She told stories. One could almost say
she rushed into them, on the merest of pretexts, as if the world was ending very shortly
and they had to be got through before it happened.’
A century of family secrets starts to unravel when Benedict Waters is summoned to an
audience with an old friend of his mother. He is seduced by her storytelling and it takes
time and an astonishing revelation before he realises that it is his own family he has
been hearing about, his own life that is being undone.
From the Blue Mountains to the Hawkesbury and from Sydney to the south coast of New
South Wales, The Fern Tattoo takes us on a kaleidoscopic journey through several
generations of three families. We meet a range of extraordinary characters including a
bigamist bishop, a librarian tattooed from neck to knee, a young girl who kills her best
friend in a tragic shooting accident and a pair of lovers who live each other’s lives for years after they have separated. As with all families, there are lost loves, tragic passions and unspoken – sometimes unspeakable – histories.
The Fern Tattoo is a beguiling novel about the certainty of fate and the randomness of
love that announces David Brooks’ return as one of Australia’s most distinctive literary
About David Brooks
Born in Canberra, Brooks then spent his earliest years in Greece and Yugoslavia. He
studied at the Australian National University and the University of Toronto. He has
taught at various Australian universities and has edited and/or served on the editorial
board of numerous Australian literary journals and been a guest at many writers’
festivals. A significant portion of his life has been spent on the south coast of New South
Wales where much of The Fern Tattoo is set.
Brooks is the author of the highly acclaimed novel The House of Balthus (1995), three
collections of poetry and three books of short fiction. His poetry and fiction have won and
been shortlisted for many awards and have translated into many languages from
German to Arabic and Mandarin to Swedish. Brooks has also edited multiple selections
of the poems of one of Australia’s most celebrated poets, AD Hope. He currently teaches
Australian Literature at Sydney University and is the co-editor of Southerly.
- Landscape of Farewell- Alex Miller-
- Love without Hope- Rodney Hall --
- Sorry - Gail Jones
- The Time We Have Taken - Stephen Carroll
- The Fern Tattoo- David Brooke
- Orpheus Lost- Janet Turner-Hospital -
- Secrets of the Sea - Nicholas Shakespeare-
- The Memory Room - Christopher Koch
- The Widow and Her Hero - Tom Keneally
The Other Long Listed Titles for the 2008 Award
‘Love can take you to the darkest places …’
Leela is a gifted mathematician who has escaped her small Southern town to study in
Boston. From the first moment she hears Mishka - a young Australian musician - playing his violin in a subway, his music grips her, and they quickly become lovers. Their souls,bodies and lives are fused, and love offers protection of sorts from the violence and anxiety around them, until Leela is taken off the street to an interrogation centre somewhere outside the city. There has been an ‘incident’, an explosion on the underground; terrorists are suspected, security is high. And her old childhood friend Cobb is conducting a very questionable investigation.
Now he reveals to her that Mishka may not be all he seems. That there may be more to his past than his story of growing up in the Daintree with an eccentric musical family.
Leela has already discovered that Mishka is spending some evenings not at the Music Lab but at a café. A café, Cobb tells her, known to be a terrorist contact point. Who can she believe? In this compelling re-imagining of the Orpheus story, Leela travels to an underworld of kidnapping, torture and despair in search of the truth … and the man she loves.
About Janette Turner Hospital
Janette Turner Hospital (righT)was born in Melbourne in 1942, but her family moved to Brisbane when she was a child. She began her teaching career in remote Queensland high schools, but since her graduate studies she has taught in universities in Australia, Canada, England, France, and the United States. Her first published short story appeared in the Atlantic Monthly (USA) where it won an “Atlantic First” citation in 1978.
Her first novel, The Ivory Swing (set in the village in South India where she lived in 1977), won Canada’s Seal Award (a $50,000 prize) in 1982. She lived for many years in Canada, and in 1986 she was listed by the Toronto Globe & Mail as one of Canada’s
“Ten Best Young Fiction Writers”. Since then she has won a number of prizes for her seven novels and three short story collections, and her work has been published in twelve languages. Three of her short stories appeared in Britain’s annual Best Short Stories in English in their year of publication, and one of these, Unperformed Experiments Have No Results, was selected for The Best of the Best, an anthology of the decade in 1995.
Following the death of his parents in a car crash, eleven-year-old Alex Dove is torn from his life on a remote farm in Tasmania and sent to school in England. Twelve years on,
he must return to Australia to deal with his inheritance. But the timeless beauty of the land and his encounter with a young woman, whose own life has been marked by tragedy, persuade him to stay. They marry, and he finds himself drawn into the eccentric, often hilarious dynamics of island life. Longing for children, the couple open their home to a disquieting guest, a teenage castaway, whose presence on the farm begins to unravel their tenuously forged happiness, while at the same time offering the prospect of a much greater fulfillment. Secrets of the Sea Shakespeare’s finest novel to date.
About Nicholas Shakespeare (left)
Nicholas Shakespeare is the author of The Vision of Elena Silves, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, The High Flyer, for which he was nominated for the Grants list in 1993 and The Dancer Upstairs which was chosen by the American Libraries Association as the best novel of 1997. In 1999 his biography, Bruce Chatwin, was published to great critical acclaim. His novel Snow Leg was published in 2004. In Tasmania won the inaugural Tasmania Book Prize in 2007.
What is a spy? Are they born, or are they made?'
With these words, Vincent Austin analyses his future occupation. Some spies are made,he says, but his kind is born. He is devoted to secrecy for its own sake.
Vincent is orphaned early, and his boyhood in Tasmania is spent with an elderly aunt.His fascination with secrecy and espionage - and much else besides - is shared to an uncanny degree by Erika Lange, daughter of a post-World War German immigrant. She too has lost her mother, and she and Vincent see themselves as twin spirits, inhabiting a shared, platonic world of fantasy and ritual.
At University, Vincent aims to enter Foreign Affairs - an ambition shared by his easygoing friend Derek Bradley. However, in his final year, Vincent is recruited by ASIS - Australia's overseas secret intelligence service - and his adolescent dream becomes reality. Erika becomes a journalist, eventually entering the overseas service as a press officer. She is an attractive and magnetic woman, but her emotional life is chaotic. She, Vincent and Bradley meet again in 1982, when they are in their thirties, and have all been posted to the Australian Embassy in Beijing. Here, Erika and Bradley begin an affair which is ultimately doomed to fail. At the same time, Vincent attempts an espionage coup which ends in disaster for himself and Bradley. Both men are expelled from China, and are based in Canberra, where Vincent is confined to the ASIS Registry: the 'memory room' of the book's title. This is the year of Star Wars, and the final phase of the Cold War. Erika, also returning to Australia, becomes a television journalist, and enjoys a period of national prominence. The fantasies of youth have become reality for Erika and Vincent, and lead to a tragic climax for them both. It is left to Bradley, who inherits Vincent's diaries, to contemplate their fate.
Although The Memory Room deals with espionage, its aims go far beyond those of a thriller. A psychological study of a brilliant but eccentric secret intelligence operative, it is also an exploration of the mystical nature of secrecy itself, and of the consequences of a shared obsession.
About Christopher Koch left)
Christopher Koch was born and educated in Tasmania. For a good deal of his life he was a broadcasting producer, working for the ABC in Sydney. He has lived and worked in London and elsewhere overseas. He has been a full time writer since 1972, winning international praise and a number of awards for his six previous novels, many of which are translated in a number of European countries. One of his novels, The Year of Living Dangerously, was made into a fillm by Peter Weir and was nominated for an Academy Award. He has twice won the Miles Franklin award for fiction: for The Doubleman and Highways to a War . In 1995 Koch was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his contribution to Australian literature.
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The Widow and Her Hero
Vintage (Random House Australia)
I knew in general terms that I was marrying a hero. The burden lay lightly on Leo, and to be a hero’s wife in times supposedly suited to the heroic caused a woman to swallow doubt… The Japanese had barely been turned back and had not abandoned the field of ambition. It was heresy and unlucky to undermine young men at such a supreme hour.
When Grace married the genial and handsome Captain Leo Waterhouse in Australia in 1943, they were young, in love – and at war. Like many other young men and women, they were ready, willing and able to put the war effort first. They never seriously doubted that they would come through unscathed.
But Leo never returned from a commando mission masterminded his own hero figure, an eccentric and charismatic man who inspired total loyalty from those under his command.
The world moves on to new alliances, leaving Grace, like so many widows, to bear the pain of losing the love of her life and wonder what it had all been for. Sixty years on, Grace is still haunted by the tragedy of her doomed hero when the real
story of his ill-fated secret mission is at last unearthed. As new fragments of her hero’s story emerge, Grace is forced to keep revising her picture of what happened to Leo and his fellow commandos – until she learns about the final piece in the jigsaw, and the
About Tom Keneally
Thomas Keneally )left) won the Booker Prize in 1982 with Schindler’s Ark, later made into the Academy Award-winning film Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg. He has written nine works of non-fiction, including The Commonwealth of Thieves, The Great Shame and American Scoundrel, and 27 works of fiction, includingThe Widow and Her Hero, An Angel in Australia and Bettany's Book. His novels The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest, and Confederates were all shortlisted for the Booker Prize, while
Bring Larks and Heroes and Three Cheers for the Paraclete won the Miles Franklin Award.