Truth by Peter Temple win the Miles Franklin Award 2010


I was very excited when I saw on the news last night (SBS news, commercial stations wouldn't report on something as meaningful as this) that Peter Temple had won for his book Truth. The most exciting part about this, is that Truth is both the first crime novel to be short listed and the first crime novel to win the Miles Franklin Award. You can read about the award ceremony and winner here and here.

The Miles Franklin Literary Award is Australia's premier literary award, having been established in 1954. In order to be eligible for the award, the book was present Australian life "in any of its phases" and have significant literary merit.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the Miles Franklin prize this year, which I have written more about here. Much of the controversy was raised as a result of comments made by Alex Miller, whose book Lovesong was shortlisted for this years prize. You can read what he has to say here and here.

Arguments were raised that The Miles Franklin Awards position as Australia's premier literary award was under threat of being usurped by new literary awards with higher prize money (like the Prime Minister's Literary Award), instead of new and increased funding being given to the Miles Franklin Award in order to reflect it's significance in Australian literature.

There was also criticism that the writers themselves were no longer taking the Award seriously, with decreasing numbers of long and short listed authors attending the prize ceremony each year. It was reported that last year none of the authors shortlisted for the award, obviously including the winner (Tim Winton) turned up.

I think it is a shame that such a prestigious and long standing award is losing it's significance, if you accept that is the case. I for noe love the Miles Franklin Award. I always make a point to try and read the winner of this award each year, and some of the short listed novels as well if I can. I have very rarely been disappointed by a book that has been associated with this Award.

The fact that this the first crime novel to win the Miles Franklin Award demonstrates to me how important this award is and seriously we should take it as an award that pays heed to the value of Australian literature, and is able to emphasise the variety of literature that deserves accolade.

Have you read any of the shortlisted novels? What do you think of the choice?

5 comments

  1. I have only read Truth so can't comment on it in comparison to any of the other books but it is certainly a very Australian story and a damn good book too. It's dark and complicated and sad but sometimes so is life I guess.

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  2. i too think the miles franklin is important given its history, it's a shame that it is loosing its relevance in some ways to the authors, but certainly still impacts on reader's choices. I had this on my TBR list but pretty low down given its genre (not really my thing) but given that it has won I think I'd better read it soon, i try to read the shortlist each year and I've enjoyed reading them all. and i tend to agree with the chosen winner, unlike the booker prize, i always seem to like the runners up better than the winners for some reason!

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  3. Alas, we don't get much in the way of Australian literature on this side of the pond. If nothing else, I think prizes such as this gives exposure to the country's literature and I think that has value.

    (off to check if I can find Truth locally ....)

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  4. I am so pleased to know that I am not the only Australian reader that pays attention to the Miles Franklin. I mean, I knew I wasn't, but it's nice to think that people make an effort to read the books that are up for these Australian awards.

    I hope to read Truth as soon as I can.

    Suzanne - have you tried The Book Depository? Or the Australian ebay? You can usually buy them on those sites and get them shipped to you. Hope that helps.

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