Sebastian Barry beat five other shortlisted authors: Patrick de Witt who wrote The Sisters Brothers which I thoroughly enjoyed and which I can imagine the Coen brothers making into a film, Pure by Andrew Miller which I quite enjoyed, Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst and The Quality of Mercy by Barry Unsworth, none of which I can comment on.
Last night Anna Funder was announced as the winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious of all Australia’s literary prizes for the widely acclaimed All That I Am.
Ms Funder’s last book, Stasiland, a work of non-fiction exploring the world of the East German secret police was recieved extremely well a few years ago. Staying with the Germans, All That I Am is a fictional account (based in fact) set in the 1930s/40s and in the present day and records how a group of anti-Hitler activists fared as exiles in Britain and the US prior to Hitler gaining power in Germany and afterwards.
The judges said they admired an “ambitious novel that moves across continents and decades, to remind us that experiences of exile and dislocation have long been part of Australian life.”
All That I Am was chosen from a very short shortlist of five which included Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears, Blood by Tony Birch, Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett and Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse.
And while we’re doing literary prizes, Sebastian Barry was awarded the Walter Scott Prize for the best historical fiction for his book, On Canaan’s Side. Sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, the prize is worth £25,000 to the winner.
The judges deemed the book “a work of immense power, the book is muscular and complete, and the author wears his learning lightly. Every character is fully drawn and utterly memorable.”