Miles Franklin Literary Award 2009

2009 Winner - Breath
by Tim Winton

The Miles Franklin Literary Award, our first and most prestigious literary award, was established in 1954 with a bequest from the author Miles Franklin. She was concerned to see Australian literature flourish and knew first hand the struggles most authors have in Australia.

The Miles Franklin Literary Award celebrates Australian character and creativity and nurtures the continuing life of literature about Australia. It is awarded for the novel of the year which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.

Since it was first awarded in 1957 to Patrick White for his novel Voss, the award has encouraged authors and delivered an immense contribution to the richness of Australian cultural life.

The Miles Franklin Literary Award 2009

On Thursday 18 June 2009 at a gala dinner held at the State Library of New South Wales. Tim Winton was announced as the 2009 winner for his novel Breath.

It is twenty-five years ago when Tim won his first Miles Franklin Literary Award for Shallows. His 2009 win means that he is the only writer ever to have won four times in his own right.

2009 Winner
Breath
Tim Winton
(Penguin)



On his win, Tim Winton said that this award has tried to do its part over time to stiffen the resolve and bolster the confidence of Australian writers and by honouring local stories and voices it's contributed to the success our literary culture has enjoyed in recent years.

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

Breath is a searing document about masculinity, about risk, and about young people’s desire to push the limits. Winton is at the height of his powers as a novelist, and this is his greatest love letter yet to the sea, to the coast of West Australia, and a compelling testimony to the role of surfing in Australian culture. Written in Winton’s own distinctive voice, we can sense that it is also a homage to some of his favourite writers: Salinger, Faulkner, Melville and Hemingway. But as we are drawn in by the elemental currents of its narrative and the compelling, wave-like force of events, Breath raises disturbing questions about desire and ‘the damage done’. What lines are crossed during rite’s passage? What ethical constraints affect relations between different generations of men and women? Throughout the novel we hear the scream of wind and storm waves and the distant, siren call of the bombora – surf breaking far out at sea. After ‘so much damage, too much shame’, can there be a going back?”

About the Author

Tim Winton has published twenty books for adults and children, and his work has been translated into 25 languages. Since his first novel An Open Swimmer won the Australian/Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Literary Award four times (for Shallows, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and Breath) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders and Dirt Music). He lives in Western Australia.

The 2009 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.

The Shortlist

On Thursday 16 March, the 2009 shortlist was announced. The five novels were:

 Breath  Tim Winton   Penguin
 Ice  Louis Nowra  Allen & Unwin
 The Pages  Murray Bail  Text Publishing Melbourne Australia
 The Slap  Christos Tsiolkas  Allen & Unwin
 Wanting  Richard Flanagan  Knopf (Random House Australia)

To read more about the shortlist enter here

The Longlist

On Thursday 12 March, the 2009 longlist was announced. To read about the longlist enter here.
55 books were submitted for this year's Award.

The Judges

Judges for this year's Award were Professor Robert Dixon, Professor Morag Fraser AM, Lesley McKay, Regina Sutton and Murray Waldren.

The Patron

The Nelson Meers Foundation continues its patronage of the Award for 2009.



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/

Supporters

A number of organisations also generously contributed to the 2009 Award:

Australian Booksellers Association (Booksellers' Competition)
HarperCollins Publishers Australia (copies of Jill Roe's Stella Miles Franklin: A Biography)
NIDA (Actors and Costumes)
State Library of NSW (Venue)