The Secret River, Kate Grenville's much-acclaimed novel, had been the heavy favorite.
"Matilda," the go-to blog for Australian literature, has a round-up of reactions to the upset here.
I see no sign that The Ballad of Desmond Kale is available in the U.S. yet. Presumably that will change.
The Miles Franklin Award is Australia's richest and most prestigious literary award. The Judging Panel wrote of McDonald's book:
This is an historical novel in a grand, operatic style, an affectionate and bravura performance by a novelist at the height of his powers. Steeped in the lore of wool and bushcraft, it echoes a clutch of Great Australian and American Novels, from Moby Dick and Tom Sawyer to His Natural Life and Such is Life. It also recalls many of the best-loved works of English fiction, suggesting in its darker moments the mordant wit of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair or, in its sunnier moments, the uplifting ethical vision of Fielding’s Tom Jones. It shares something with those novels in its sweeping geographical scope, its rich cast of characters, and the rollicking pace of its events, which take us from the bush beyond Parramatta to the Houses of Parliament in London, from the sheepwalks of Yorkshire to shipwrecks and piracy in the South Pacific, from the chaotic settlement at Sydney Cove to the grim melodrama of the convict system at Macquarie Harbour.Click here to see a list of past winners of the Miles Franklin Award.