Michelle de Kretser has won her second Miles Franklin Literary Award, after being named the recipient of the 2018 prize for her novel, The Life to Come.
She previously won in 2013, for her novel Questions of Travel.
This puts her in the small club of being the third woman to win the prize more than once, in the award’s 61-year history. Thea Astley won four times (1962, 1965, 1972, 2000), and Jessica Anderson twice, in 1978 and 1980.
De Kretser said in a statement on winning the award for the second time: “I feel twice as lucky, twice as happy, and twice as honoured.”
De Kretser receives $60,000 in prize money for the win, with her novel chosen from a shortlist including: Felicity Castagna’s No More Boats, Eva Hornung’s The Last Garden, Catherine McKinnon’s Storyland, Gerald Murnane’s Border Districts and Kim Scott’s Taboo.
Judges described The Life To Come as powerful, and able to blend sharp satire of the literary world with compassionate portraits of lonely people, featuring their strategies for survival.
“Sentence-by-sentence, it is elegant, full of life and funny. With her characteristic wit and style, Michelle de Kretser dissects the way Australians see ourselves, and reflects on the ways other parts of the world see us,” said chair of the judging panel and State Library of NSW Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville.
De Kretser was born in Sri Lanka, and moved to Australia at the age of 14. She’s studied in Colombo, Melbourne and Paris.
She’s previously worked as an editor for Lonely Planet and wrote her first novel, The Rose Grower, while on sabbatical in 1999, later published in 2003.