The shortlist for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award has just been announced, and it appears to be decidedly free from the controversy that plagued it last year — we are neither in ‘sausage-fest’ nor ‘cock-forest’ territory. There are five works in the shortlist, down from a longlist of thirteen, and with three female writers among the titles — Anna Funder, Gillian Mears and Favel Parrett — women make up over half the list.

Frank Moorhouse is the only former winner, who won in 2001 with The Dark Palace, part of the author’s ‘Edith trilogy’, which his current nominated work Cold Light is the final instalment. A debut novelist also makes it onto the list, Favel Parrett with Ask the Shallows. 

In terms of publishers, there is an even spread, with no two works by the same house. UQP (Birch), Hamish Hamilton (Funder), Allen & Unwin (Mears), Vintage (Moorhouse), and Hachette (Parrett) are all represented.

The five shortlisted novels are:

  • Tony Birch Blood
  • Anna Funder All That I Am
  • Gillian Mears Foal’s Bread
  • Frank Moorhouse Cold Light
  • Favel Parrett Past the Shallows

Interestingly, in their statement on the site, the Trust Company wrote that this year the judging panel was formally authorised to ‘use their discretion to modernise the interpretation of Australian life beyond geographical boundaries to include mindset, language, history and values.’ This may suggest that the widely tipped favourite, Anna Funder, is even more likely to take out the award. It is a great expansion of the selection criteria regardless.

The prize will be awarded on 20 June 2012, and I’ll be continuing my Miles Franklin Countdown in the lead up to the announcement. I’ve already written on Funder’s All That I Am, and the next novel I’m delving into will be Tony Birch’s Blood.

What do you think of the shortlist? Who would you like to see win?

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