Miles Franklin Literary Award 2007
2007 Winner - Carpentaria
by Alexis Wright
On Thursday 21 June at a gala dinner held at the State Library of New South Wales, William McInnes announced Alexis Wright as the 2007 winner for her novel Carpentaria.
(Giramondo Publishing Company)
On accepting the Award, Alexis Wright said that she was deeply honoured.
"I understand that the Miles Franklin award is now in its 50th year. It has a rich history of honouring the work of many great Australian writers whose work I respect and admire. As an Indigenous Australian writer trying to make my contribution to the literature of this country, I am honoured to be in their company. I am also struck by the vision and foresight of Miles Franklin herself in establishing this award to encourage and recognise the work of Australian writers," Ms Wright said.
Commenting on the winner's novel, the Judging Panel wrote:
"Alexis Wright’s powerful novel about the Gulf country works on many levels and registers. At its centre is Norm Phantom, an old man of the sea and custodian of indigenous lore, his wife Angel Day, and their son Will, who is involved in a deadly fight for land rights against the shadowy proprietors of the huge Gurfurrit mine. At one level, the novel is a gripping account of that campaign and the mining company’s violent and illegal attempts to protect its interests in the Gulf. At another level, it is a stunning evocation – some will want to call it magic realism or postcolonial allegory – of a sublime and often overwhelming tropical world that is still inhabited by traditional spirits like the rainbow serpent, the groper, the sky people and the ghosts of the dead. These ancient spiritual forces work through the elements of sky and sea and land to throw off the presence of the strangers and restore this remarkable place to something like its ancient rhythms. The novel’s climax is quite literally apocalyptic, drawing together its different stylistic registers of myth, allegory and social satire; its conclusion is cathartic and even inspiring.
Carpentaria is a big novel in every sense. Richly imagined and stylistically ambitious, it takes all kinds of risks and pulls them off with the confidence and assurance of a novelist who has now discovered her true power."
About Alexis Wright
Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her books include Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in the outback town of Tennant Creek, and the novel Plains of Promise, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize, the Age Book of the Year and the NSW Premier’s Award, and published as Les Plaines de l’espoir by the distinguished French publishing house Actes Sud.
Alexis Wright is one of Australia’s finest Aboriginal writers. Carpentaria is her second novel, a soaring epic set in the Gulf country of north-western Queensland, from where her people come.
Carpentaria’s portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centres on the powerful Phantom family, whose members are the leaders of the Pricklebush people, and their battles with old Joseph Midnight’s tearaway Eastend mob on the one hand, and the white officials of Uptown and the neighbouring Gurfurrit mine on the other.
Wright’s storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, politics and farce. The novel teems with extraordinary characters – the outcast saviour Elias Smith, the religious zealot Mozzie Fishman, guru of the holy Aboriginal pilgrimage, the murderous mayor Stan Bruiser, the moth-ridden Captain Nicoli Finn, the activist and prodigal son Will Phantom, and above all, the rulers of the family, the queen of the rubbish-dump and the fish-embalming king of time, Angel Day and Normal Phantom – figures of such an intense imagining, they stand like giants in this storm-swept world.
About the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2007
55 novels were submitted for this year’s Award.
The 2007 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 2007 Award were Eve Abbey, Professor Robert Dixon, Morag Fraser AM’ Ian Hicks and Regina Sutton.
This year we are delighted that the Nelson Meers Foundation continues as the Patron for this Award.
The Nelson Meers Foundation was founded by Nelson Meers, a former Lord Mayor of Sydney, in order to continue Mr Meers' background in civic service. The Foundation is committed to the principle that artistic and cultural endeavours are essential to both individual identity and an enlightened and democratic society. To view more information about this Foundation please visit http://www.nelsonmeersfoundation.org.au/.
The Miles Franklin Literary Award 2007 shortlist -
Congratulations to Beaumaris Books (Victoria) who won this year’s competition for their detailed shortlist window display.