Nearly two decades ago, Melissa Lucashenko was a delivery driver in Brisbane’s northern outskirts. Today, the Griffith graduate and Griffith Review contributor is a recipient of Australia’s most prestigious literary prize – the Miles Franklin Award.
‘Too Much Lip’ is Lucashenko’s sixth title of contemporary Aboriginal life. It centres on a character named Kerry Salter, who after avoiding prison and her family for years, is forced to return home to Bundjalung country to deal with a crisis involving Goorie politics and struggles. Race, class, land and family are key motifs for the novel also shortlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize.
“I feel shocked and I feel really pleased to be honest to win such an acclaimed prize”, Ms Lucashenko said.
A graduate of Griffith University with a major in Public Policy, the path to the literary stardom she now holds has been unconventional to say the least.
“I was working as a delivery driver in 1982 and applied to go to Griffith. I had no real concept of what it meant to go to university or how life would change. And here I am 25 years later and I’m a novelist,” Ms Lucaseneko told Griffith Review in a 2013 interview.
One of the most published authors in the Review’s history with 12 pieces, Ms Lucashenko credits the publication with being pivotal in her writing career.
“It’s been a critical development platform for me. It allowed me a space to think out loud and to refine my writing and think about issues that go to the heart of what Australia is and what Australia can be.
“I’m very grateful for Griffith Review for not just what they’ve done for me but what they’ve done for the climate of Australian public intellectualism.”
Griffith Review Editor Dr Ashley Hay said to have a Miles Franklin prize winning novelist closely aligned with the publication speaks for itself.
“Melissa has been associated with Griffith Review since its second edition in 2003; we’re grateful to have been able to host her words in a dozen editions – including an early extract from Too Much Lip (GR60)– and to support and celebrate the growth of her career.
“Hers is one of Australia’s most important and exciting voices: she is fierce; she is funny, and she pins her places and her people to the page like no one else”, Dr Hay said.
Also an accomplished essayist, the Brisbane-born writer won a Walkley Award in 2013 for her feature writing long-form piece ‘Sinking Below Sight: Down and Out in Brisbane and Logan‘, a story partly informed by her studies in public policy at Griffith.
Melissa joins acclaimed author Frank Moorhouse as the only recipients of both a Walkley and Miles Franklin with both receiving their Walkleys for Griffith Review pieces
The Miles Franklin Literary Award was established in 1957 through the will and bequest of Maria Miles Franklin, author of ‘My Brilliant Career’.
Longlisted for the Award in 2014 for her novel ‘Mullumbimby’, Ms Lucashenko receives $60,000 for this year’s success.
A who’s who of our literary giants including Patrick White, Tim Winton, Thea Astley to indigenous author Alexis Wright are recipients of the prize which celebrates its 62nd year in 2019.