Miles Franklin Literary Award 2006

On Thursday 22 June at a dinner held at the State Library of New South Wales, Margaret Fink announced Roger McDonald as the 2006 winner for his novel The Ballad of Desmond Kale.

2006 Winner - The Ballad of Desmond Kale
by Roger McDonald

In accepting the Award, Roger McDonald said that it was a great honour to be awarded this prize.

“I am tremendously excited about winning it, the recognition and readership it brings to the art of fiction in Australia," he said.

Commenting on the winner’s novel, the Judging Panel wrote:

“This is an historical novel in a grand, operatic style, an affectionate and bravura performance by a novelist at the height of his powers.  Steeped in the lore of wool and bushcraft, it echoes a clutch of Great Australian and American Novels, from Moby Dick and Tom Sawyer to His Natural Life and Such is Life.  It also recalls many of the best-loved works of English fiction, suggesting in its darker moments the mordant wit of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair or, in its sunnier moments, the uplifting ethical vision of Fielding’s Tom Jones.  It shares something with those novels in its sweeping geographical scope, its rich cast of characters, and the rollicking pace of its events, which take us from the bush beyond Parramatta to the Houses of Parliament in London, from the sheepwalks of Yorkshire to shipwrecks and piracy in the South Pacific, from the chaotic settlement at Sydney Cove to the grim melodrama of the convict system at Macquarie Harbour.”  To read more about the judges’ formal comments please enter here.

Roger McDonald’s publisher, Jane Palfreyman said, “We couldn’t be more thrilled about Roger McDonald winning the Miles Franklin Award for The Ballad of Desmond Kale.  Roger is one of the finest writers of our time, and this prestigious award marks another milestone in a brilliant career of which we are all very proud.  The daring of Roger’s ambition, the brilliance of his language and the sheer, dazzling exuberance of this novel make it a pure pleasure to read.  I hope this Miles Franklin Award will mean that many new readers discover the glorious work of Roger McDonald – what luck for them and what fitting recognition for Roger!”

About Roger McDonald

Roger McDonald is the author of six novels: 1915, Slipstream, Rough Wallaby, Water Man, The Slap and Mr Darwin’s Shooter. His account of travels with New Zealand shearers in the Australian outback, Shearers’ Motel, won the 1993 National Book Council Banjo award for non-fiction and has been republished by Vintage. The internationally acclaimed besteller Mr Darwin’s Shooter was awarded the New South Wales, Victorian, and South Australian Premiers’ Literary Awards, and won the National Fiction Award at the 2000 Adelaide Writers’ Week.

About The Ballad of Desmond Kale

In the early 1800s, out of the prison society of governors, redcoats, English gaolers, Irish convicts, and the few free settlers of Botany Bay, no one had ventured much farther inland than a few dozen miles from Sydney into the vast territory claimed, New South Wales. Or so it was believed until the escape of Desmond Kale and the vengeance of his rival, the wildly eccentric parson magistrate Matthew Stanton.

The Ballad Of Desmond Kale is Roger McDonald's broad-sweeping novel of the first days of British settlement in Australia. At the centre is Stanton's pursuit of Kale - an Irish political prisoner and a rebelliously brilliant breeder of sheep.  The alchemy of wool fascinates, threatens, and transforms when it is discovered that fine wool thrives in New South Wales as nowhere else in in the world, producing veritable gold on sheep's backs. The laying to waste of Spain (Britain's chief supplier of fine wools) at the end of the Napoleonic wars, opens vast new opportunities of supply.

The Ballad Of Desmond Kale is both a love story of unusual interest and an epic novel of greed, ambition, conceit, and redemption.  The novel is rich in its characterisations and the rawness of its settings, vigour of language, and vividness of personality.  The action moves from the early Australian bush to the halls of Westminster, the mills of Yorkshire, the sierras of Spain, the wilds of the Southern Ocean, and returns at last into the far outback for its finale.  Once the ballad is sung, ordinary experience is heightened, the world can never be the same again.  A brilliant and inspired recreation of the early days of white Australian settlement by one of Australia’s finest writers working at the height of his powers.

About the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2006

54 novels were submitted for this year’s Award.

On 27 April the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2006 Shortlist  was announced.

The 2006 Prize was $42,000 and is awarded for the novel of the year which is of “the highest literary merit and which must present Australian life in any of its phases”. Novels submitted must have been published in the year of entry of the Award.

Judges for the 2006 Award were Eve Abbey, Professor Robert Dixon, Morag Fraser AM and Ian Hicks.

Nelson Meers Foundation was the Patron for this year’s award.

A number of organisations generously contributed to the 2006 award:

To view the 2006 shortlisted novels please enter here.

To view the 2006 longlist of novels please enter here.

To view the shortlisted novels please enter here.

About the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2006 Touring Program

For the first time in the history of this Award, a 2006 winner’s touring program was launched.  Made possible through the financial support of Australian copyright management company, Copyright Agency Limited, the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2006 winner, Roger McDonald, toured regional libraries across New South Wales and Victoria as well as a guest speaking role at the Australian Association for the Teaching of English’s annual conference, Darwin.

The Miles Franklin Literary Award 2006 shortlist – Booksellers’ Competition

Congratulations to Shearer’s on Norton (Leichhardt, New South Wales) who won this year’s competition for their detailed shortlist window display. 

Barbara Cullen (ABA), Janice Fewin (APA), and Daniel Ruffino (Penguin) judged the 2006 entries and were most impressed by the efforts and creativity displayed by all entries received for the competition.