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Stella Prize 2015 Longlist

February 12, 2015

As a team-member of the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge, I’m particularly interested in the Stella Prize, which, as you probably know, is a prize limited to Australian women writers. The great thing about it, though, is what it isn’t limited to – and that is form and genre. The first winner in 2013 was a novel, Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with birds (my review), and the second, last year, was a history, Clare Wright’s The forgotten rebels of Eureka (my review). What will it be this year?

Well, it could be a book of short stories or a memoir, or it could be true crime or, yes, a novel, or it could even be a young adult novel or a book about the human race. Here, if you are interested, is this year’s longest (the shortlist to be announced on March 12):

  • Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil: a collection of short stories which has been receiving positive reviews.
  • Emily Bitto’s The Strays: a debut novel set around the 1930s and published by small publisher, Affirm Press
  • Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals: a collection of short stories giving, I understand, a animal’s-eye-view of humans, at our best and worst.
  • Helen Garner, This house of grief book cover

    Courtesy: Text Publishing

    Helen Garner’s This House of Grief: a sort-of true-crime-cum-courtroom story which I reviewed last year.

  • Sonya Hartnett’s Golden Boys: novel by one of our well-established well-regarded writers
  • Christine Kenneally’s The Invisible History of the Human Race: non-fiction about the development of the human race, looking at DNA and historical factors.
  • Sofie Laguna’s The Eye of the Sheep: second novel from an author whose first novel was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award.
  • Joan London’s The Golden Age: I loved London’s Gilgamesh, and also enjoyed her The good parents (which I’ve reviewed here) so why haven’t I yet read this one?
  • Alice Pung’s Laurinda: debut novel, for young adults, by acclaimed memoirist Pung whose second memoir I’ve reviewed here).
  • Inga Simpson’s Nest: second novel by an author proving to be popular with AWW Challenge reviewers. She’s on my radar.
  • Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and Light: debut novel which won the 2013 David Unaipon Award, and it’s on my TBR.
  • Biff Ward’s In My Mother’s Hands: memoir by the daughter of historian Russell Ward, which I’ll be reading in March, as it’s been scheduled for my reading group.

This year’s stellar (couldn’t resist that) judges are critic and writer Kerryn Goldsworthy (chair), journalist and broadcaster Caroline Baum, writer and lecturer Tony Birch, singer–songwriter Sarah Blasko, and author Melissa Lucashenko. You can read the judge’s full report on the Stella Prize website.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. ian darling permalink
    February 12, 2015 8:53 pm

    An interesting list of books. I will be interested to see what you think of the Biff Ward memoir. I have a copy of her father’s The Australian Legend in a pile somewhere which I know to be a highly influential, if controversial, study of the origins of the Australian character.

    • February 12, 2015 11:12 pm

      Yes, I’m looking forward to reading it Ian … I had heard that it was getting great reviews. I believe it’s a very interesting story she tells. Must say I haven’t read Russell Ward myself — read others on our origins, a long time ago, but not him.

  2. February 12, 2015 10:44 pm

    Lovely to see some short story collections on the list. And a broad range of material. Books to order, I think. Yes I agree Gilgamesh was totally absorbing and why haven’t I read more Joan London?

    • February 12, 2015 11:14 pm

      Yes, it’s great isn’t it, Catherine … I love seeing the Stella Prize list.

  3. Glen Hunting permalink
    February 12, 2015 11:34 pm

    A very strong list. I thought The Strays was very impressive indeed. Still want to read Foreign Soil and Heat and Light before Ms. Beneba Clarke and Ms. van Neerven, respectively, jet into Perth for our Festival.

    • February 12, 2015 11:41 pm

      Oh, I’m so envious of your festival. I’ll be watching out for people blogging on it, Glen. I haven’t read The strays (obviously, or I would have said), but I’ve just bumped up Heat and light to next one to read. I’m going to try to sneak it in before two books I have to read for group commitments by the end of February. Can I do it! I’ll have to seek out Beneba Clarke. Wouldn’t it be good if short stories won this year!! It would be great to give the form a boost (only of course, if the works are deserving!)

      • Glen Hunting permalink
        February 12, 2015 11:54 pm

        Only The Animals is in there too, of course. I think two nominated collections is great, even if neither of them win. Their presence on the long-list is plenty of validation for the art form.
        I reckon you should con someone into funding you a ticket to our Festival. Or even dip into your own kitty. I think you’d enjoy it. Most people seem to. 🙂

        • February 13, 2015 12:02 am

          One day I just might dip into my kitty, though I keep thinking my next trip to Perth and the southwest will be in wildflower season. Still, the festival is a big drawcard.

  4. February 13, 2015 2:49 am

    How interesting that there is no genre limit. I wonder if that makes it more difficult to judge? I mean, how does one compare a memoir against a novel and decide which one is “better”?

    • February 13, 2015 10:09 am

      I suspect it does a little Stefanie, though I suppose any comparison is difficult in the end. It’s a great line-up of judges I think.

  5. Timothy permalink
    February 13, 2015 10:40 am

    Thanks for this. I’ve pinched the list for my own blog, and linked back so people can read your reviews.

    • February 13, 2015 2:55 pm

      Thanks Timothy … It’s always good to share the love about Aussie literature.

  6. Meg permalink
    February 13, 2015 10:50 am

    I have read Golden Boys, Only the Animals, The Golden Age, The Eye of Sheep, and This House of Grief. All are excellent reads, and I hope they make the short list. I liked The Strays, and not just because it was set in Melbourne, but I felt that there were too many gaps in the story line. The Nest is on my TBR list because I did enjoy Mr Wiggs by Inga Simpson. It will be interesting to see the short list. My favourite at the moment is Only the Animals.

    • February 13, 2015 2:57 pm

      You are such a fast reader, Meg! Only the animals sounds good, and Ingalls Simpson has a bit of buzz around her too.

  7. February 22, 2015 12:13 pm

    There are some amazing reads here. I would’ve included Lost & Found too as I thought that was fairly exceptional… but each to their own. I really enjoyed Laurinda and look forward to more from this author. Some of the stories in Foreign soil were great, it isn’t really my sort of story but there is something about this author that would be fabulous if she won.
    What a great list!

    • February 22, 2015 2:49 pm

      Thanks Laura for joining in. I wondered about Lost and found too. I thought it was a fresh, interesting book on the subject of grief, ageing and loneliness. Enjoyed your comments on Laurinda and Foreign soil. I’m writing my review of Heat and light now. A very good read too, I thought.

      • February 22, 2015 3:23 pm

        Great… I’ll look forward to reading it 🙂

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