Congratulations to Evie Wyld for her Miles Franklin win with her novel All the Birds, Singing.
The novel was judged as being ‘of the highest literary merit’ and presents ‘Australian Life in any of its phases’ in accordance with Miles Franklin’s guidelines for the Award.
Perpetual’s General Manager of Philanthropy, Andrew Thomas, said the Miles Franklin Literary Award is a fantastic example of philanthropy for the arts in Australia.
“As an author Miles Franklin has made an impact on all of her readers and as a philanthropist she continues to make her mark on the literary community,” Mr Thomas said. “In 2014 this Award continues to make a difference to talented writers such as Evie Wyld.
“We’re delighted to have the honour of being the Trustee of this Award, growing Miles Franklin’s initial investment of $17,844 in decimal currency to its current position of more than $1.3 million. This growth has allowed us to continue to deliver the current prize money and ensure we keep Miles Franklin’s legacy alive.”
Evie Wyld’s novel was selected from a shortlist of authors which included Richard Flanagan, Fiona McFarlane, Cory Taylor, Tim Winton and Alexis Wright.
Commenting on behalf of the judging panel, State Library of New South Wales Mitchell Librarian, Richard Neville, described Wyld’s writing as “spare, yet pitch perfect”, with her novel being both “visceral and powerfully measured in tone”.
“All the Birds, Singing draws the reader into its rhythm and mystery, through wonderfully and beautifully crafted prose, whose deceptive sparseness combines powerfully with an ingenious structure to create a compelling narrative of alienation, decline and finally, perhaps, some form of redemption,” Mr Neville said.
“Flight from violence and abuse run through the core of the novel, yet never defeat its central character. All the Birds, Singing, an unusual but compelling novel, explores its themes with an unnervingly consistent clarity and confidence.”
Richard Neville was joined on the judging panel by The Australian journalist and columnist, Murray Waldren, Sydney-based bookseller, Anna Low, biographer, book historian, publishing editor, and Queensland Writers Centre founding chair, Craig Munro, and Emeritus Professor, Susan Sheridan.
As I’ve said, probably ranted, before — I fell in love with All the Birds, Singing when I read/reviewed it last year over at the Newtown Review of Books so, was delighted to find out it had won the Miles Franklin this year. I confess I was on duty at the library at the time and my double squees of delight at the Information Desk were audible to library patrons (how embarrassing). So far, we’ve had seven other reviews of the book (some excerpts below) and all AWW reviews are accessible here.
Julia Tulloh enjoyed the book and wrote: “I was excited when I heard that Evie Wyld’s second novel, All the Birds, Singing, was a contemporary gothic thriller about a woman in the wilder parts of the English country side who is haunted by a strange beast in the woods. I love scary novels with female protagonists, and having lived in Scotland, was excited to see how the landscape might be used to explore psychological terror. … it’s just that my hopes of a scary landscape were met in the outback, rather than the English hills.”
Candace at Word Engineer said: “It’s been a long time since I’ve genuinely enjoyed a book as much as I did All the Birds, Singing.” Despite finding it “bleak at times”, she writes that “Wyld, a gifted storyteller, knows when to take a break and integrate moments of kindness and warmth to soothe her readers.” Candace was also “intrigued by the abrupt ending.”
Orange Pekoe Reviews said it was “a short, almost perfect novel.” She went on to say that “ Jake’s character was superbly created. No specific physical description of Jake is included but the tiny snippets provided along the way made me want to know more. By the end it is clear that her physical appearance added complexity to everything she experienced and you are left wishing more detail was provided yet the novel does work better without any background expository. The flashback chapters that spun in reverse chronological order were highly addictive to read. Just when you thought you were getting close to finding out about Jake’s secret and her scars, the author takes you back even further in time. The final revelation isn’t what I expected either and I liked the fact it wasn’t predictable.”
Sue at Whispering Gums writes: “All the Birds, Singing is about how the past cannot “be left alone”. “We’ve all got pasts”, the shearers’ boss tells Jake early in the novel, but for some people the past must be dealt with before they can move on. The novel is also about redemption. It’s not the first novel about the subject, and neither will it be the last, but it is a finely told version that catches you in its grips and makes you feel you are reading it for the first time.”
Biblionetworker reviewed the novel saying: “This was definitely a book that I was very sorry to come to the end of, because I was sorry to be leaving Jake’s story and was still not sure of its conclusion. I can’t wait to talk to other readers of this book to hear their ideas about it!”
The Miles Franklin Award was established by My Brilliant Career author Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin to support Australian literature and over the past 58 years has maintained her literary legacy.
I’m a freelance book reviewer, journalist, editor, and librarian. I blog over at Wordsville and can be found on Twitter @PaulaGrunseit
Lovely announcement-cum-roundup Paula. Seems like a lot of us liked the book and yet for different reasons. For example, I didn’t really see it as a scary book. Somehow, I didn’t really focus on the sheep killing issue. I was too interested in who Jake was to worry about her sheep! Hmmm …
If this book is making Paula scream I had better add it to my TBR list! I’ve been writing on rural masculinity lately so that’s another reason why I’ll pick it up. I know it’s bad that it takes the hype of a literary award to make one pick up a novel but there needs to be some sort of a sifting mechanism!
Not a scream, Jessica, just a “squee” or two. Is a “squee” a half-scream do you think? Anyhow, I think using awards as “one” of our sifting methods is ok. I’ll be interested to hear what you, with your writer’s eye, think of it. Lisa at ANZLitLovers didn’t get past 50 pages, finding it “dreary”, and I’ve heard other negatives, but like Paula, I greatly enjoyed it.
I confess I had to consult Urban Dictionary (useful for those of us born in the 20th C!) which says to squee is ‘to squeal with glee; from a combination of the two words; the sound of an excited fangirl’. No screaming, then 🙂 And yes, I’ve heard about the controversy, so I’ll let you know what I think!
Ah thanks Jessica, that makes sense. My daughter uses it a lot. I look forward to hearing what you think when you get to read it.