FEATURE: Crime writer Temple wins top Australian book prize

Miles Franklin winner Peter Temple. [robertarood.files.wordpress.com]
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Miles Franklin winner Peter Temple. [robertarood.files.wordpress.com]

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Crime writer Peter Temple has won this year's Miles Franklin Literary Award for his novel Truth, set amid the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria.

Temple beat five other shortlisted authors to the $AU42,000 prize.

He says taking home the prestigious prize feels like winning the Nobel Prize.

"It's the Miles Franklin. It stays with you forever," he said.

"I feel enormously elated by it.

"One only has to look at the people who have won the Miles Franklin," he added.

"In order to join that company, you have to believe that you've joined something quite special.

"I mean in any other terms it really would be like winning the Nobel Prize."

Truth, described by the judges as a complex crime narrative, is the sequel to 2007's The Broken Shore.

The judges said choosing Temple's work from the five others was an extremely difficult decision.

Temple says after the success of Shore, writing a sequel was a challenge.

He almost stopped writing Truth altogether after the Black Saturday bushfires, which killed almost 200 people last year.

"I wasn't quite sure how to cope with that. I wasn't sure what kind of book I would write," he said.

He has not ruled out writing a third book in the series.

Temple has published nine novels and won the Ned Kelly Award for Crime Fiction five times.

The annual Miles Franklin Literary Award was set up in 1954 through a bequest of My Brilliant Career author Stella Miles Franklin.

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