Debut novelist wins Australia's most prestigious literary prize
Thursday, 28 June 2012 12:54

novelist smlUTS graduate Anna Funder was named the winner of the 2012 Miles Franklin Literary Award for her acclaimed debut novel "All That I Am".

Graduating in March with a Doctor of Creative Arts (DCA), Funder produced All That I Am as the creative component of her DCA thesis.

The novel had already won a series of prizes before the Miles Franklin Award, including the Australian Book Industry Awards for Best Literary Novel and Book of the Year 2012. It is shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards to be announced on 23 July.

Inspired by interviews and memoirs of those who resisted the Third Reich from the beginning, All That I Am is an exploration of bravery and betrayal, of the risks and sacrifices some people make for their beliefs, and of heroism hidden in the most unexpected places.

While All That I Am is Funder's first novel, she is also author of the international, non-fiction bestseller Stasiland, which won the 2004 Samuel Johnson Prize and was published in 20 countries and translated into 16 languages.

Funder was selected by the Miles Franklin Award judging panel from a field of five shortlisted authors including; Tony Birch Blood, Gillian Mears Foal's Bread, Frank Moorhouse Cold Light and Favel Parrett Past the Shallows.

Established in 1954 through the will of My Brilliant Career author Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, the annual award is administered and presented by The Trust Company, as trustee, to the novel of the year which is judged to be of the highest literary merit and "presents Australian Life in any of its phases". Funder will receive $50,000 in prize money.

In her acceptance speech, delivered from London, Funder said that without writers, "our inner lives, as well as the inner life of the nation would remain opaque to us."

"Our sense of ourselves would be flabby, or shrivelled, and our society fractured and shallow, vulnerable to manufactured fears and noisy jingoisms of every stripe.

"I seem to have made my life's work so far in examining places where writers were banned. It didn't go well for them – not the writers, nor the places.

"Prizes like this one are important to writers, but they are not necessary – we would keep writing without them, as writers do in many countries where they are banned. But prizes are very important to the nation.

They show that free speech is alive and unbeholden to government, or to media barons."