A decade ago, Shankari Chandran, an Australian writer of Sri Lankan origin, encountered obstacles in getting her debut book published, as publishers questioned its alignment with the Australian market. Today, Chandran has emerged as the victor of the prestigious 2023 Miles Franklin Literary Award with her novel ‘Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens’.
‘Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens’ weaves a captivating narrative around themes of family, memories, community, and race, interwoven into an intergenerational epic that confronts Australia’s complex journey with multiculturalism and the aftermath of colonial history. As readers delve into the pages of Chandran’s award-winning novel, they are immersed in a journey that highlights how individual stories can profoundly shape the people we become. The triumphant recognition of ‘Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens’ signifies Chandran’s remarkable talent as an author, and this marks her third novel to be celebrated in the literary world.
The Miles Franklin Literary Award, a highly esteemed accolade, is bestowed annually upon a novel that exemplifies the highest literary merit while authentically capturing some aspect of Australian life. This year’s distinguished panel of judges, led by Richard Neville- State Library of NSW Mitchell librarian and Chair, included accomplished figures such as author Bernadette Brennan, translator Mridula Nath Chakraborty, critic James Ley, and poet Elfie Shiosaki.
The Miles Franklin Literary Award holds a rich history of recognizing exceptional literary contributions in Australia, honoring luminaries like Thea Astley, Jessica Anderson, Tim Winton, and others. With Shankari Chandran’s victory, the award showcases a progressive shift towards embracing diverse voices and narratives that resonate with the intricate tapestry of Australian life. ‘Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens’ stands as a testament to the power of storytelling and its ability to shed light on the multifaceted complexities of a nation’s identity.