Debut Novelist Wins Major Australian Award

Australia's prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award went this year to debut novelist Anna Funder for her best-seller All That I Am (Harper). Funder, whose novel of the Nazi resistance in Europe also won her country's Independent Bookseller’s Award for debut fiction and was named Indie Book of the Year, received $50,000 Australian (approximately $50,355).

Funder is also the author of the Samuel Johnson Prize–winning nonfiction book Stasiland: True Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall, published by Granta Books in 2003, which the author wrote after making a shift from previous careers in international law and television production in Germany. Her award-winning debut novel also carries threads of the real, particularly stories of pre-World War II activists who opposed Hitler's rise to power, some culled from the author's personal relationship with a German refugee living in Australia.

The other contenders for this year's Miles Franklin Award are Blood by Tony Birch, Foal's Bread by Gillian Mears, Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse, and Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett. The award is given annually for a novel that "presents Australian life in any of its phases."

In the video below, Funder describes the challenges of shaping her novel, including the importance, while crafting fiction from historical events, of getting the story "morally right."