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Miles Franklin Literary Award

That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott was announced as the 2011 winner of the Miles Franklin literary award last night. The award is worth $50,000 in prize money.

That Deadman Dance is a historical novel telling the story of early contact between British colonisers, American whalers and the indigenous Noongar people on the south coast of Western Australia.

The judges described the book as historical and magical as it drifts between the settler world and the Aboriginal world.

That Deadman Dance is alive in the spaces between these two worlds as they collide and collaborate,” they said.  “We see and feel the hardship, tragedies and aspirations of the settlement, and at the same time we are transported into the mystical and spiritual life worlds of Wabalanginy and his people.”

In 2000 Kim Scott was the first Aboriginal writer to win the Miles Franklin with his book Benang : from the heart. That year he tied with writer Thea Astley with her novel Drylands.

There were just three novels on the shortlist this year. Scott’s rivals were Chris Womersley with Bereft and When Colts Ran by Roger McDonald which we are due to read in September.

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