Miles Franklin Literary Award 2005
2005 Winner - The White Earth
by Andrew McGahan
On Thursday 23 June at a gala dinner presentation at the State Library of New South Wales, Gillian Armstrong announced Andrew McGahan as the 2005 winner.
Accepting the Award, Andrew McGahan said that winning or being shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award is what every young writer aspires to do when they start out in this profession.
"It's about the prestige, and the recognised standard this Award sets for Australian novels. For me, its immensely fulfilling to achieve this milestone," he said.
Commenting on the winner's novel, the Judging Panel wrote:
"The White Earth revisits the conventions of the Australian pioneering saga and the gothic novel, investing them with remarkable imaginative force and contemporary significance. On the eve of Native Title legislation, John McIvor of the historic Kuran Station in South East Queensland hopes to pass on the estate and its troubled legacy to his young nephew, William. As if seeing through the distracting pain of the boy's illness, McGahan subjects postcolonial Australia to a searing analysis. William's disease is literally the burden of the past. McGahan writes with a total command of thematic design and narrative structure. The White Earth draws on the full resources of the novel as an imaginative form to explore some of the most urgent social and political issues haunting Australians today."
About Andrew McGahan
Andrew McGahan was born in Dalby, Queensland, but has lived and worked mostly in Brisbane. His first novel Praise, published in 1992, was winner of The Australian/Vogel Literary Award. Since then his writing includes an award winning stage play (Bait) and the AFI award winning screenplay for the movie version of Praise. His second novel was the prequel 1988, published in 1995, and his third novel Last Drinks was published in 2000. It was shortlisted for multiple awards, including The Age Book of the Year and The Courier Mail Book of the Year, and won a Ned Kelly award for crime writing. His latest book, The White Earth won the Age Fiction Book of the Year in 2004.
About The White Earth
A grand, pulsating novel about the power of the land and the
passions of people trying to make it their own. McGahan has written a
major new Australian novel.
One spring day in late 1992, when William was halfway between his eighth birthday and his ninth, he looked out from the back verandah of his home and saw, huge in the sky, the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion. He stared at it, wondering. The thunderhead was dirty black, streaked with billows of grey. It rolled and boiled as it climbed into the clear blue day, casting a vast shadow upon the hills beyond. But there was no sound, no rumble of an explosion. William was aware of the smell of burning . . . but it was a good smell, a familiar smell. The smell of grass, of wheat, of the farm itself.
His father dead by fire and his mother plagued by demons of her own, William is cast upon the charity of his unknown uncle - an embittered old man encamped in the ruins of a once great station homestead, Kuran House. It's a baffling and sinister new world for the boy, a place of decay and secret histories. His uncle is obsessed by a long life of decline and by a dark quest for revival, his mother is desperate for a wealth and security she has never known, and all their hopes it seems come to rest upon William's young shoulders. But as the past and present of Kuran Station unravel and merge together, the price of that inheritance may prove to be the downfall of them all. The White Earth is a haunting, disturbing and cautionary tale.
About the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2005
43 books were submitted for the 2005 Award.
To view the five novels shortlisted for the 2005 Award, please enter here.
Judges for the 2005 Award were Eve Abbey, Professor Robert Dixon, Morag Fraser AM, Ian Hicks, and the State Librarian of NSW, Dagmar Schmidmaier AM.
Promotion and administration for the 2005 Award was proudly supported by Australian copyright management company, Copyright Agency Limited (CAL).
A number of organisations generously contributed to making the gala dinner a special event:
- Arrowfield Estate for supplying the wines at the dinner
- HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing My Brilliant Career novels
- Madman Entertainment Pty Limited for My Brilliant Career DVDs
- Margaret Fink Pty Limited for allowing use of the film My Brilliant Career
- NIDA for actors and their costumes.