Whatever else the announcement of the Miles Franklin shortlist tells us, it also reminds us of our mortality. Of our own mortality and of that of the world we inhabit.

The minute we leave, the world that we know is gone. Our very departure changes the world, if only a tiny, unmeasurable way. On my best days, I think that’s as good as immortality. The world will not be quite the same as it was going to be when we are no longer there. We die, leaving a person or two to catch their breath and then, a baby is born and the world shifts again, and piece by piece the world becomes a different one. There are new problems to solve, new reasons to celebrate.

Problems unforetold and celebrations unimagined.

I have no idea how Miles Franklin imagined the world of 2011 would look, but I guess she saw it as one in which the announcement of a literary prize ‘portraying Australian life in any of its phases’ would be an opportunity for celebration. Not another reminder of how far we’ve still got to go.

(and, though I think it goes without saying, I’m going to say it anyway – this is not to say the shortlisted works aren’t excellent books by excellent writers)