The Miles Franklin Award is Australia’s highest literary award. It is awarded to “a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases”.
It is named in honour of (Stella) Miles Franklin, who bequeathed the funds to start the award. Ms. Franklin was an author herself, best known for My Brilliant Career (M), a romance written to amuse her teenaged friends in 1901. Interestingly, she decided to pull the publication due to the distress she felt because of the unwanted attention it brought to her family and friends. It was re-released posthumously.
“The plot of this novel is of epic simplicity: in 1845 Voss sets out with a small band to cross the Australian continent for the first time. The tragic story of their terrible journey and its inevitable end is told with imaginative understanding. The figure of Voss takes on superhuman proportions, until he appears to those around him as both deliverer and destroyer. His relationship with Laura Trevelyan is the central personal theme of the story. The true record of Ludwig Leichardt, who died in the Australian desert in 1848, suggested Voss to the author.”–Fantastic Fiction
“Based on a true story, Anna Funder’s novel brings to light new – and very early – heroes of the resistance. The story of two Jewish Germans — Hans and Ruth Wesemann — who resisted Hitler in the 1930s – this is their heartbreaking story – a very special novel with an uncommon depth of humanity and wisdom, a searing and intimate portrait of courage and its price, of desire and ambition, and of the devastating consequences when they are thwarted.” – publisher
The 2013 winner is:
“Laura Fraser grows up in Sydney, motherless, with a cold father and an artistic bent. Ravi Mendes is on the other side of the world–his humble father dead, his mother struggling, determined to succeed in computer science. Their stories alternate throughout– culminating in unlikely fates for them both, destinies influenced by travel–voluntary in her case, enforced in his. With money from an inheritance, Laura sets off to see the world, returning to Sydney to work for a travel guide. There she meets Ravi, a Sri Lankan political exile who wants only to see a bit of Australia and make a living”.