Trauma haunts Miles Franklin shortlist

Sophie Moore

Trauma casts a long shadow in all six novels shortlisted for Australia's richest literary prize with a powerhouse of experienced authors contending for the Miles Franklin.

Four nominees are set to take another tilt at the $60,000 award with prior works shortlisted in previous years.

Contenders are evenly split between men and women but there are no first-time authors this year.

Nominees include Tony Birch, whose novel The White Girl has been described by the jury as a celebration of Aboriginal resilience which demands Australia address its savage past.

Previously shortlisted for Blood in 2012, Birch's latest work won the NSW Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing.

Other nominees including Peggy Frew, who was also shortlisted for Hope Farm in 2016, and twice-shortlisted author Carrie Tiffany with her work Exploded View.

They're joined by poet and novelist Philip Salom with The Returns, a playful portrait of a seemingly ordinary, middle-aged North Melbourne couple.

The two Miles Franklin newcomers are Tara June Winch, whose work The Yield has been both a popular and critical darling, winning both the People's Choice and Book of the Year at the 2020 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, and John Hughes, with his third novel No-One.

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, the award's chair Richard Neville said while the books were diverse in form and tone they all explored the lasting effects of trauma.

"From familial stories of neglect and abuse to the national story of racial and cultural dispossession, these novels demonstrate powerfully how past trauma continues to inform the present," Mr Neville said in a statement on Thursday.

The winner will be announced on July 16.

Each of the shortlisted authors will receive $5,000 from the Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund.