The 2016 Miles Franklin Award Guidelines provide further information on eligibility and criteria.
Commenting on the winner's novel, the Judging Panel wrote:
"In Dark Palace, the companion novel to his earlier Grand Days, Frank Moorhouse takes the twinned histories of the League of Nations of Edith Campbell Berry, his Australian heroine, through to the demise of the League after World War II. As its title suggests, this is a more sombre novel than its predecessor, a song of experience rather than innocence, with Edith's earlier idealism and optimism repeatedly challenged by failures in her private life as well as by the League's failure to prevent a world war. Even her trip home to Australia has its darker moments, as she discovers that Canberra has a yet no room for a woman like her. Moorhouse's effortless control of his historical material is matched by his remarkable insight into his character lives."
True History of the Kelly Gang
On a shortlist notable for its vision and revision of the past - the past that is not dead…not even the past, as William Faulkner says in the epigraph – Peter Carey tackles Australia's boldest and most contentious historical figure, Ned Kelly. The True History of the Kelly Gang follows Kelly from childhood to his capture and death. As always, Carey writes with the greatest lyrical spring and dexterity, offering a subtle and sympathetic portrait of this much written about bushranger. His achievement in fashioning so rounded a character from his semi-literate narrator is exemplary.
In her first novel, The Company, Arabella Edge does something audacious and consistently entertaining. She takes a well known and much historicised event: the Wreck of the Batavia in 1629, and makes it as vivid and tangy as the waters she describes; and she describes the calamitous events through the voice of Jeronimus Cornelisz, the perpetrator of the murder and mayhem that ensued, who, in Edge's novel, emerges as a decidedly unconventional, plausibly warped and almost seductively evil narrator in the Nabokov tradition.
The Day We Had Hitler Home
Rodney Hall takes a young Australian woman, Audrey O'Neill, to Europe, specifically to Germany during the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. Her experiences there open her eyes to what has been happening in her own country, and to the ways in which ordinary people are implicated in the rise of Fascism. One of the many pleasures of The Day We had Hitler Home is the skill with which Hall controls the multiple layers of his story. Since Audrey is a filmmaker, the narrative combine's descriptive overviews with her first-person accounts, allowing free play for Hall's irony and allegory. This is a daring novel and a fitting conclusion to the seven-volume metaphorical history of Australia Hall began in 1988 with Captivity Captive.
The English Passengers
Matthew Kneale's The English Passengers is the story of an English clergyman's quest to discover the biblical Garden of Eden in Van Dieman's land. His quest is futile; what is discovered instead is the Edenic Tasmania of the surviving Aborigines. Kneale's book is a brilliant concert of voices, each different in pitch and tone, which together combine to make this a memorable literary achievement.
Conditions of Faith
In Conditions of Faith Alex Miller engages in a young woman's search for personal authenticity and wholeness. His character Emily Stanton reaches out beyond marriage and motherhood to reactivate the muscles of her mind. Miller's writing about female experiences is assured, intense, compelling and surprisingly sensuous.
Life after George
Hannie Rayson's play, Life after George, is skilfully constructed across three decades and the lives of four women. When left wing academic, Peter George, dies in a plane crash, his two ex-wives, his current wife and his daughter gather together to bury him. Through intricate and delicately balanced layers of past and present, acutely observed generational conflict and changing imperatives, Rayson weaves a critique of the modern corporate university and its threat to moral courage and hopefulness. The text as both literature and social history is vivid and richly nuanced.