Shankari Chandran wins Australia’s prestigious $60,000 literary award for her Novel

The novel's major theme is the role that stories play in national identity

Sydney-based lawyer of Tamil heritage 48-year-old Shankari Chandran’s ‘Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens’ has won the 2023 Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Ms Chandran was born in the United Kingdom to doctor parents. She came to Australia at the age of three and grew up in Canberra.

In a statement, Ms Chandran said:

“It means so much to me that Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens, a novel that explores what it means to ‘be Australian’, has been recognised in this way.”

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Image: Shankari Chandran (Source: Facebook)

This novel is set in an aged care facility in contemporary western Sydney and Sri Lankan civil war. It’s major theme is the role that stories play in national identity.

In an interview, Ms Chandran said:

“I’m Australian and this particular story explores the lives and voices of people on the margins of that definition, but whose lives and voices are no less important than others. It explores the way we shape our new home and the challenges we face in asserting our right to be here.”

The judges have praised Ms Chandran’s novel which is an intergenerational epic confronting Australia’s uneasy relationship with multiculturalism and postcolonial trauma.

The judges’ said in a joint statement:

“It treads carefully on contested historical claims, reminding us that horrors forgotten are horrors bound to be repeated, and that the reclamation and retelling of history cannot be undertaken without listening to the story-tellers amongst us.”

This prestigious literary award is named after celebrated Australian author Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin and is in its 66th year.

The 2023 Miles Franklin Literary Award judges were the State Library of NSW Mitchell librarian and chair Richard Neville, academic and poet Elfie Shiosaki, and academic and translator Mridula Nath Chakraborty, author and literary critic Bernadette Brennan, and critic James Ley.

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The other 2023 shortlisted titles are:

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