Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch’s novel, The Yield, has received another accolade, winning Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin.

Published by Penguin Random House Australia, The Yield has already been awarded the 2020 Book of the Year, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and the People’s Choice Award at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. It was also shortlisted for the 2020 Stella Book Prize.

Winch was selected for the Miles Franklin alongside established writer and Aboriginal man, Tony Birch whose novel The White Girl was nominated.

The Yield was described by the judging panel as “haunting and accomplished”. Featuring Wiradjuri language, the novel weaves together three stories and explores the legacies of colonialism. At the same time, it highlights and empowers the resilience, compassion and humanity that remains in First Nations peoples.

“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. 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,” said Winch in a statement addressing the win.

“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.”

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian and Director, Engagement of the State Library of New South Wales said: “In English, ‘yield’ signifies what one takes from the land. 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.”

In response to COVID-19, Winch’s win was announced in a live YouTube presentation by trustee Perpetual.

Winch will receive $60,000 in prize money and will join a long line of Aboriginal Miles Franklin Winners including 2019 winner Melissa Lucashenko for Too Much Lip, 2007 winner Alexis Wright for Carpentaria and two-time winner Kim Scott who shared the prize in 2000 for Benang and won in 2011 with That Deadman Dance.

The Copyright Agency is a long-term sponsor of the Miles Franklin Award. CEO, Adam Suckling noted the company’s pride in the awards and the talent it recognises.

“Previous winners of this prestigious award have made an outstanding contribution to Australian literature and their work is now read widely in Australia and overseas,” said Suckling.

“This year’s winner, Tara June Winch, is an exemplary talent and we are excited for her as she takes this next step in her career.”

By Rachael Knowles