Gerald Murnane is desperate for his first game of golf in ages. With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, tomorrow he will be off to Edenhope in western Victoria to join his fellow “golfing geriatrics” as they resume their regular round. “They’ll have to get two or three armed police there to stop me,” he said. “Or teargas me.”
But before that he can bask in the knowledge that A Season on Earth, his book with an unusual publishing history, is one of 10 novels that have been longlisted for this year’s $60,000 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia’s most significant fiction prize.
Joining the 81-year-old on the list are: Tony Birch (The White Girl); Melanie Cheng (Room for a Stranger); Peggy Frew (Islands); John Hughes (No One); Anna Krien (Act of Grace); Philip Salom (The Returns); Carrie Tiffany (Exploded View); Tara June Winch (The Yield), and Charlotte Wood (The Weekend).
Cheng and Krien are listed for their first novels; Tiffany and Wood are previous winners of the Stella Prize, while Birch, Frew, Salom, and Wood have been shortlisted for the Miles with previous novels. Winch won three prizes in the recent NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, including book of the year. Seven of the writers are based in Victoria.