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Sri Lankan-born author Kretser wins top Australia literary prize

(Reuters) - Sri Lankan-born author Michelle de Kretser won Australia's top literature prize on Wednesday, awarded the Miles Franklin award for her novel "Questions of Travel" that follows two people on separate journeys.

She was chosen from a shortlist of five writers, all of whom were female, to win the A$60,000 ($57,000) prize. Also on the shortlist were Romy Ash, Annah Faulkner, Drusilla Modjeska, and Carrie Tiffany.

Richard Neville, one of five judges, said all of the novels were at a surface level about families.

"Each novel approaches its subject from a very different perspective, but all deliver complex, engrossing narratives which persist long after the books are closed," he said in a statement.

The judging panel praised Kretser's book for bringing "large questions close-up and personal with her witty and poignant observations and her vivid language".

Her novel centers on two characters each describing a different journey with Kretser exploring questions of home, travel, refugees and rapid changes in electronic communication.

Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Australia in 1957 at the age of 14.

She is also the award-winning author of "The Rose Grower", "The Hamilton Case" and "The Lost Dog" which won the 2008 NSW Premier's Book of the Year Award and was long listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize and the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction.

The Miles Franklin award, set up in 1954, is Australia most prestigious annual literary award and is awarded to authors whose works reflect "Australian life in any of its phases".

The award was founded by the Australian novelist Miles Franklin who is best known for her 1901 novel "My Brilliant Career".

(Reporting by Ellen Sowerby, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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