Yesterday saw the announcement of the 2013 Miles Franklin longlist. The ten longlisted titles were slowly revealed for the first time via Twitter – each title tweeted by @_milesfranklin‘s account as a picture of the book’s cover. It was a bit delicious – the usual clicking of a link and quick look at a list was replaced by the same kind of nervous anticipation felt at an awards ceremony.
The first thing I noticed about the list was how many women there were on there. Of ten titles, eight are written by women. This, in the same year that the Australian Women’s Writing Challenge has been widely embraced, and in the lead-up to the inaugural Stella Prize announcement. Interestingly, two of the titles on the Stella shortlist are also on the Miles Franklin longlist (Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with Birds and Michelle de Kretser’s Questions of Travel).
Miles Franklin was a lady, whose pen name looked a helluva lot like a man’s. I’d hazard a guess that this was a move to be taken seriously. Those were the times she lived in. We now have new women’s prizes, widespread movements championing women’s writing, and a longlist for a major literary award with a majority of women’s writing. These are the times we live in.
Congratulations to all the nominated writers, and good luck!
A side note: I have read one of the longlisted titles, Brian Castro’s Street to Street. My review can be read here.