Sri Lankan-Australian wins Australia’s top literary prize

Michelle de Kretser has been laureled 2013 Miles Franklin Award which is recognized as Australia’s most prestigious literary prize for her novel Questions of Travel, a media release from this year’s Trustee of the award, the Trust Company said on Wednesday.
Simon Lewis, Head of Community and Philanthropy at The Trust Company said that this was the first time in the history of the award to have all female nominees in the shortlist. “It has stimulated great discussion and debate,” he said.
According to Richard Neville, the chair of the judging panel, five novels listed in this year’s shortlist, which were at a surface level all about families. But it was difficult for judges to choose the winner since “each novel approaches its subject from a very different perspective, but all deliver complex, engrossing narratives which persist long after the books are closed.”
“The judging process itself is exhaustive and exhausting… this year there was intense discussion on the winner,” local media ABC News quoted Neville as saying.
Neville described these books focusing on “searching for their comfort, the crisis when they fail, escaping their pervasive grasp, or the despair when they do not seem possible but more deeply these books are about the intersection of people’s lives with national, indeed international, stories and ideas.”
Questions of Travel, De Kretser’s winning piece, made up a story of two desperate characters exploring a different journey respectively. “The stories intertwine and pull against one another, and within this double narrative, de Kretser explores questions of home and away, travel and tourism, refugees and migrants, as well as ‘questions of travel’ in the virtual world, charting the rapid changes in electronic communication that mark our lives today,” the judge Neville commented.
The winning work was depicted as the “witty and poignant observations” in the vivid language to deal with many issues that Australian society concerned.
Born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was 14, de Kretser was educated in Melbourne and Paris. Apart from this award, she also won 2008 New South Wales State (NEW) Premier’s Book of the Year Award and was long listed for some other national literary prizes.
The winner, who has worked as the university tutor, editor and book reviewer, will receive 60,000 Australian dollars (56,985 U.S. dollars) from this award. The main contribution of her novel may rely on her idea on how to keep balance in a speeding, spinning world.
The Miles Franklin Literary Award was established in 1954 through the Will of My Brilliant Career author, Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, to encourage and support writers of Australian literature. The annual Award is presented to the novel of the year, which is judged to be of the highest literary merit and “presents Australian Life in any of its phases.” (Xinhua)