WA tales vie for top Australian book prize

Stephen Bevis Arts Editor

Tim Winton has a chance to win a record fifth Miles Franklin Award after his latest novel Eyrie was included on the long list of 11 books vying for Australia's most prestigious literary award.

Sharing the spotlight with the acclaimed WA writer is newcomer Tracy Farr, who comes from Perth but lives in New Zealand.

Farr was celebrating yesterday after her debut novel The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt was put in contention for the $60,000 prize, awarded in June.

Farr said that being nominated was a confidence boost as she slogged away during the difficult early stages of writing her second novel.

"It feels like being enveloped in a big, warm, literary and very Australian embrace," she said.

"It's like being invited to join the gang after lurking for years on the fringes as an observer."

Published by Fremantle Press, her book follows the misadventures of a WA musician across several decades and continents.

The early favourite for the 2014 award is Richard Flanagan for his Thai-Burma railway tale The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Other long-listed authors are Alexis Wright - who won the Miles Franklin in 2008 with Carpentaria - for The Swan Book; Ashley Hay for The Railwayman's Wife; Melissa Lucashenko for Mullumbimby; Fiona McFarlane for The Night Guest; Nicolas Rothwell for Belomor; Trevor Shearston for Game; Cory Taylor for My Beautiful Enemy and Evie Wyld for All the Birds, Singing.

The Miles Franklin short list will be announced on May 15 and the winner will be announced on June 26.