Congratulations to Anna Funder who was last night awarded the 2012 Miles Franklin Award for her debut novel All That I Am.
While All That I Am was the bookies’ favourite for taking out the prize, it wasn’t an easy win for Anna. The judges were split three-two, with Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows narrowly missing out. (And after last year’s controversy over the male dominated short-list, it’s nice to see that this year the frontrunners were two women.) The other authors on the shortlist were Frank Moorhouse for Cold Light, Gillian Mears for Foal’s Bread and Tony Birch for Blood.
This has been a big year for Anna. All That I Am has been awarded Literary Fiction Book of the Year (Australian Book Industry Awards), the 2012 Barbara Jefferis Award for Best Debut Fiction and Indie Book of the Year. It’s also on the shortlist for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the winner of which will be announced next month.
In her acceptance speech (which was pre-recorded as she is currently in England for a literary festival), Anna was quick to come to the defence of literary awards, saying, “literary prizes like the Miles Franklin celebrate the power of fiction to help us understand the inner workings of nations as well as ourselves.” So she could hardly ignore this year’s axing of the QLD Premier’s Literary Awards by Campbell Newman:
“Abolishing writers awards is a cost cutting measure but is also a step towards the unscrutinised exercise of power. Writers would keep writing without prizes as they do in countries where they are banned but they are important to the nation and show free speech is alive and unbeholden to government or media barons.”
Anna’s prize for winning the Miles Franklin Award is $50,000. She is only the 10th woman to win the prize since it’s inception in 1957, and is the first woman to win since 2007, when Alexis Wright won for Carpentaria.
Have you read All That I Am, or any of the other shortlisted books? What did you think?