Around a month ago, I announced this year’s longlist for Stella Prize … and now I bring you the short list. It must have been such a difficult choice and I’m sure all the books longlisted deserved to be shortlisted – but there can only be 6, and here they are:
- Six bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight (Random House)
- Hope Farm by Peggy Frew (Scribe)
- A few days in the country: And other stories by Elizabeth Harrower (Text) (on my TBR – now definitely higher in my priority list)
- The world without us by Mireille Juchau (Bloomsbury)
- The natural way of things by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)
- Small acts of disappearance: Essays on hunger by Fiona Wright (Giramondo) (my next read, after my current one)
These represent three novels (by Peggy Frew, Mireille Juchau and Charlotte Wood), two short story collections (by Tegan Bennett Daylight and Elizabeth Harrower), and a set of essays (by Fiona Wright). Varied as usual, but with, also as usual, an emphasis on fiction.
Brenda Walker, one of the judges, says:
A common thread I see – it doesn’t apply to every title – is some kind of vital expansion of Australian women’s literature,” she said. “You can say that Fiona Wright connects her book to Christina Stead – she writes quite a bit about Stead – and you immediately think about Barbara Baynton when looking at a few of the titles. Elizabeth Harrower is part of that literary history and there she is vivid and present. So I see this as a burgeoning of women’s literary tradition, which has often been a little bit oblique to the mainstream, canonical stuff.
Christina Stead, Barbara Baynton – both significant, and strong Australian women writers. I like the sound of this, this sense of a tradition, of writers building on those who came before – the building on, being the important thing of course.
The winner will be announced on April 19. The prize is $50,000. However, each of the shortlisted authors will now receive $2,000, and apparently a three-week writing retreat at a house in Point Addis, Victoria. Sounds like a wonderful “consolation” prize to me – and, as I reported David Malouf as saying just this week, being shortlisted is a significant achievement in terms of recognition.
The judges as I advised in my previous post are: writer Emily Maguire, memoirist/essayist Alice Pung, author/academic Brenda Walker, literary critic/author Geordie Williamson, and bookseller/founder of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation Suzy Wilson.
PS I won’t be doing long and short lists for every award that comes along, but because of my commitment to the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge, I do like to promote the Stella Prize.