Congratulations from all at Transit Lounge to Philip Salom on his wonderful novel The Returns being shortlisted for the Miles Franklin 2020.
Trevor and Elizabeth might be disparagingly called ordinary middle-aged people. Really, they are just in the middle of living, with all the everyday concerns of work, health and relationships. Circumstances bring them together as lodger and landlady and bind them together as friends, with the unspoken possibility of more. The ‘returns’ of the title include Trevor's father (long ago declared legally dead), abandoned talents and ways of seeing - but also the restoration of confidence, love and feeling that life is worth living and chances worth taking. This novel is a celebration of the humble and unsung, firmly grounded in a specific North Melbourne locale. The characters' failings and small triumphs are observed good-naturedly and non-judgementally, and often with a playfulness that does not disguise empathy or compassion. The pithy observations, authentic dialogue and keenly rendered characterisation gives weight to even the most minor of players and celebrates the poetry of ordinary existence. There is a joyousness in the author's use of the well-turned phrase that makes this slice-of-life novel a delight to read, not least of all because of its spirit of generosity in regards to people’s follies and foibles.