More Miles Franklin Long List Gems
Both Charlotte Wood and Gail Jones could call themselves experienced literary figures. Charlotte (featured in the video) has already enjoyed Miles Franklin success, with her second novel, The Submerged Cathedral (2004), reaching the shortlist for the 2005 award. It also received the 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.
Meanwhile, Gail has appeared on the Miles Franklin shortlist three times, and won more than a few awards, including the Age Book of the Year Award and the international Prix Femina award.
This year’s Miles Franklin award is another chance for these authors. One may soon be able to attach the appellation, "Winner Miles Franklin Award 2012" to their novel.
Animal People – Charlotte Wood
Charlotte’s fourth novel, Animal People, follows an aimless Sydneysider through a day of significance. Stephen is stuck in a dead-end job, juggles the intrusions of a demanding family and is enmeshed in an unhappy relationship -- one which he hopes to terminate by the day’s end. The toughness of Sydney also adds its own woes, in a book where animals feature prominently: from Stephen’s trip to the zoo, to the dog products in the mall, to his thoughts on human and animal connections.
Writing for The Age, Angela Meyer said of the book: "This is a compelling and ultimately moving novel that cements Wood's place as one of the most intelligent and compassionate novelists in Australia."
Five Bells – Gail Jones
Five Bells, like Animal People, shares the narrative trick of occurring all in one day. The drama is thus compacted. It also occurs in Sydney, with much of the action taking place under the picturesque sights of Circular Quay, The Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Four people converge on the Quay, becoming immersed in its sights and sounds. Yet they are not calm. Tragedy, shame, trauma and guilt haunt the four characters: Ellie, James, Catherine, and Pei Xing. A fifth figure -- a child -- emerges during the story, which reaches a life-changing climax in a rain soaked Sydney evening.
Peter Pierce of The Sydney Morning Herald called the book: "a taut, intricately organised short novel," one that "gives the impression of expansiveness."