Michelle De Kretser wins Miles Franklin Literary Award 2013

MIchelle de Kretser has won this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award for her fourth novel, Questions of Travel (Allen & Unwin).

The win follows several shortlistings this year - for the Stella Prize, the ALS Gold Medal, the Indie Award for Fiction and the Kibble Literary Award.

Michelle de Kretser: This is her first Miles Franklin win.

Michelle de Kretser: This is her first Miles Franklin win.

De Kretser has won numerous awards for her previous novels (The Hamilton Case, The Rose Grower and The Lost Dog), and her fans include Hilary Mantel, A.S. Byatt and William Boyd, but this is the first time she has won the Miles Franklin.

The book is a double narrative following two characters on very different journeys. Laura travels the world before returning to Sydney, where she works for a publisher of travel guides, while Ravi dreams of being a tourist until he is driven from Sri Lanka by devastating events.

Richard Neville, chair of the judging panel, says that the novel ‘ is about keeping balance in a speeding, spinning world’ and explores questions of ‘home and away, travel and tourism, refugees and migrants, as well as ‘questions of travel’ in the virtual world.’

‘She brings these large questions close-up and personal with her witty and poignant observations and her vivid language.’

The other shortlisted writers were Romy Ash for Floundering, Annah Faulkner for The Beloved, Drusilla Modjeska for The Mountain and Carrie Tiffany for Mateship with Birds.

Some reviews of the book

Frank Moorhouse for the Miles Franklin:

‘This book has a slow narrative full of the sharpness and uses that searching gaze which travel – the displacement from our familiar lives – gives to us. She goes lightly and sometimes aching into what the changing of continent, country, or city, does to our ‘self’.’

Rebecca Starford in Sydney Morning Herald:

‘“To work and suffer is to be at home. All else is scenery.’‘ Adrienne Rich’s quote is aptly found in this impressive novel, which is designed gorgeously in hardcover. Questions of Travel is a grand and intellectual work, a unique study on the essence of modern time, how we travel in it and through it.

Evelyn Juers in Sydney Review of Books:

‘In a recent interview, de Kretser said, ‘I like three-dimensional novels that are like walking down a corridor and you find a niche in the wall or a door might be open and you can go into a room or peer in, and sometimes the door is closed but you know there is a space in there.’ Reading her work is an experience just like that.’

You can also listen to Michelle discuss Questions of Travel on Radio National’s Books and Arts Daily.

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