Amanda Lohrey wins the 2021 Miles Franklin Literary Award

Amanda Lohrey has been named the winner of this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award for The Labyrinth. The Miles Franklin Literary Award recognises a novel of the highest literary merit that presents Australian life in any of its phases.

Erica Marsden’s son, an artist, has been imprisoned for homicidal negligence. In a state of grief, Erica cuts off all ties to family and friends, and retreats to a quiet hamlet on the south-east coast near the prison where he is serving his sentence. There, in a rundown shack, she obsesses over creating a labyrinth by the ocean. To build it, Erica will need the help of strangers. And that will require her to trust, and to reckon with her past.

The Labyrinth is a hypnotic story of guilt and denial, and of the fraught relationship between parents and children. It is also a meditation on how art can both be ruthlessly destructive and restore sanity. It shows Amanda Lohrey to be at the height of her power. Judge and Mitchell Librarian of the State Library of NSW and Chair, Richard Neville, said, ‘ The Labyrinth is an elegiac novel, soaked in sadness. It is a beautifully written reflection on the conflicts between parents and children, men and women, and the value and purpose of creative work.’

Our programming and events manager Chris Gordon said of the novel, ‘Lohrey’s skill, however, is that The Labyrinth is fundamentally a story of hope. It is an illustration of community spirit, of kindness and of empathy. Lohrey writes so quietly and confidently that you will be drawn into the scenery and to the supporting characters, and you will be weeping for Erica before you finish. I am a huge fan of Lohrey’s writing and I do believe that this novel is her very best. It is perfectly balanced and completely masterful.’ You can read her full review here.

First awarded in 1957, the Miles Franklin Literary Award is presented annually and its winners receive $60,000 in prize money. You can find out more about the award here.

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The Labyrinth

The Labyrinth

Amanda Lohrey

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