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Tara June Winch wins 2020 Miles Franklin Award for The Yield

Tara June Winch

Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch has taken out the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award for her second novel, The Yield.

Winch’s “haunting and accomplished” work topped a field that included previously shortlisted authors including Tony Birch, Peggy Drew, Philip Salon and Carrie Tiffany.  

“In English ‘yield’ signifies what one takes from the land,” judge and State Library of NSW Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville said of the winning book. “In Wiradjuri it is ‘the things you give to, the movement, the space between things: baayanha’.

The Yield explores the legacies of colonial violence, shame, intergenerational trauma and environmental destruction. Winch celebrates and amplifies the contemporary resurgence and relevance of the Wiradjuri language. The Yield, a story of pain, loss, resilience and hope, is a novel where the past is the present is the future”.

Winch appeared at Adelaide Writers’ Week 2020 in February, where she explained how The Yield marries language, history and family, and marks the culmination of a 15-year process. “Ultimately the book is a gift for my father,” Winch said in February.

“I wanted him to be able to immerse himself in the language, and have characters he could root for. Writing this book I came to it like a plasterer who had to learn how to build an entire house; I had a love, and feeling, and wanted to honour my family and history, and had to work out how to bring it together.”

Winch, who was also shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and Stella Prize for the novel, will take home $60,000 as part of this win.

“I’m honoured to be among brilliant colleagues on the longlist and shortlist, our power is in the many stories and not only the one,” Winch said of the win, which makes her the fourth First Nations writer to win one of the country’s most prestigious literary prizes. “The historical presence of both Tony Birch and myself on the shortlist signals to the publishing industry that we can write our own stories, and that we don’t want to be spoken for.

“I hope this event also encourages the next generation of Indigenous voices, to know there is a space here for you in the industry, and in the minds and hearts of a new era of readers. We need to hear voices from across the nation to truly immerse ourselves in the song of Australia.”

Listen to Tara June Winch’s Adelaide Writers’ Week session here:

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country.

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