Three hearty cheers! And congratulations to Gillian Mears, for winning the PM’s award for her novel, Foal’s Bread. This follows on the gold medal awarded by the ALS (Association for the Study of Australian Literature). I am delighted. I predicted, when I reviewed this book (see my post, “Best Australian Novel for 2011” that it would win the Miles Franklin this year. Well, as we all know, it didn’t; it was shortlisted, but Anna Funder’s All that I Am won. I read Funder’s best-selling novel on my recent trip to Sydney, and will review it soon.
I have to say, in brief, that I much prefer Foal’s Bread. Which is not a criticism of All that I Am, just an acknowledgement of my subjective preference. As I have said in a couple of recent posts/comments, reviewing is a very subjective process, as is judging. I have the luxury of judging freely, without the responsibility of awarding a major prize to one author, and denying it to those who are short-listed. So this is my space to say who my winner is.
I want to congratulate Gillian Mears with all my heart, and to say that I think this is a great and original novel, on a par with the best of Henry Handel Richardson, Randolf Stow, Patrick White, Tim Winton, David Malouf, Kate Grenville, Kim Scott, and other Australian writers who’ve won the hearts and minds of readers over the years by capturing our (colonial/indigenous/multicultural) spirit, our landscape and our history in their worlds of fiction. Gillian Mears, in this masterpiece, becomes one of the greats, the original and visionary mythmakers of the many ways of being Australian.
Good on you, Gillian. I hope you write another novel.