“Extraordinary skill and compassion” Jennifer Down wins the 2022 Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel Bodies of Light

Taking home the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award for her novel Bodies of Light, Jennifer Down is one of the youngest authors to ever receive the accolade and as such has cemented herself as a potent voice to watch in the Australian literary landscape.

The judges said of Down’s work, “Bodies of Light invites readers to witness the all-too-often concealed, destructive forces of institutionalised care. With extraordinary skill and compassion, Down has written an important book which speaks to an urgent issue in Australian contemporary life.”

The novel tells the story of a woman with a traumatic history: placed in the care system as a young child, and let down time and time again by those who were meant to protect her.

Down will take home $60,000 in prize money, having been chosen from a shortlist that included award-winning authors Michael Mohammed Ahmed, Michelle de Kretser, and Alice Pung as well as self-published author Michael Winkler.

The award was established in 1954 by the estate of author Stella Maria Miles Franklin to celebrate the Australian character and creativity. It recognises a novel of the highest literary merit that presents Australian life in any of its phases.

The 2022 judging panel was comprised of author and literary critic Dr Bernadette Brenna, literary scholar Dr Mridula Nath Chakraborty, book critic Dr James Ley, NSW Mitchell Librarian and Chair Richard Neville, and author and editor Dr Elfie Shiosaki.

Watch the livestream of the winners announcement below:

Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down is available now from Text Publishing. Purchase your copy from Booktopia HERE.

Jess Gately

Jess Gately is a freelance editor and writer with a particular love for speculative fiction and graphic novels.