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The 2021 Miles Franklin Literary Award Shortlist is a mix of debut, early career and established authors, all reflecting the rich and diverse fabric of Australia’s cultural landscape.

 

AMNESTY by Aravind Adiga

Amnesty
by Aravind Adiga (Pan Macmillan)

Danny – Dhananjaya Rajaratnam – is an illegal immigrant in Sydney having fled Sri Lanka. For three years he’s been trying to create a new identity for himself, but then one morning he learns a female client of his has been murdered. Should Danny come forward with knowledge he has about the crime and risk getting deported, or saying nothing? Over the course of a single day he must wrestle with his conscience and decide if a person without rights still has responsibilities.

THE RAIN HERON by Robbie Arnott

The Rain Heron
by Robbie Arnott (Text Publishing)

Robbie Arnott’s second novel is equal parts horror and wonder, and utterly gripping. Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading – and forgetting. But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a local myth, Ren is inexorably drawn into an impossible mission.

At the Edge of the Solid World by Daniel Davis Wood

At the Edge of the Solid World
by Daniel Davis Wood (Brio Books)

In a village in the Swiss Alps, a husband and wife find their lives breaking apart following the death of their firstborn. On the other side of the world, in their hometown of Sydney, a man commits an act of shocking violence that captures international attention. As the husband recognises signs of his own grief in both the survivors and the perpetrator, his fixation on the case feeds into insomnia, trauma and an obsession with the terms on which we give value to human lives.

The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey

The Labyrinth
by Amanda Lohrey (Text Publishing)

This deeply meditative book follows Erica Marsden, who, in a state of grief, retreats to a quiet hamlet near the prison where her son, an artist, has been imprisoned for homicidal negligence. Living in a rundown shack, she obsesses over creating a labyrinth by the ocean. To build it, Erica will need the help of strangers. This is a hypnotic story of guilt and denial as well as a meditation on how art can be both ruthlessly destructive and restorative.

Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos

Lucky’s
by Andrew Pippos (Pan Macmillan)

The book centres around Lucky, a second-generation Chicago-born clarinet-playing Greek man who finds himself in wartime Australia in the ’40s, escaping service by impersonating “king of swing” Benny Goodman. Lucky comes into money through personal tragedy and uses it to run a successful franchise of cafe diners. Spanning decades, this unforgettable epic tells a story about lives bound together by the pursuit of love, family, and new beginnings.

The Inland Sea by Madeleine Watts

The Inland Sea
by Madeleine Watts (Pushkin Press)

This debut novel is about coming of age in a dying world and exploring our capacity for harming ourselves, each other and the world around us. Facing the open wilderness of adulthood, our young narrator finds that the world around her is coming undone. She works part-time as an emergency dispatch operator, tracking the fires and floods that rage across Australia during an increasingly unstable year. Drinking heavily, sleeping with strangers, she finds herself wandering Sydney's streets late at night as she navigates a troubled affair with an exlover. Reckless and adrift, she begins to contemplate leaving.


Books in the Miles Franklin Literary Award Shortlist are available in store and online now.

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