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Stella Prize 2016 Shortlist

March 10, 2016

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:

  • Fiona Wright, Small acts of disappearanceSix 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.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. sharkell permalink
    March 10, 2016 4:33 pm

    That’s a pretty impressive list! I do try to read the shortlist each year but never quite make it. The ones I am most interested in are the Wood, Wright and Frew so I’ll try to get to them first.

    • March 10, 2016 5:04 pm

      It is isn’t it Sharked. I find it hard to say my top priority but I’ll be starting with Wright (partly because no-one has reviewed it (or at least by the end of Feb) for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge and the Harrower because I like her and I like short stories and I’ve bought it!

  2. March 10, 2016 6:42 pm

    I have read them all, and thought all were good reads except for one. I really ejoyed Wright’s essays, and found them very informative. Elizabeth Harrower short stories are excellent. So I think, it will be a toss up between these two.

    • March 10, 2016 8:05 pm

      Thanks Meg, you are a reading machine! I’m looking forward to Wright. I’ll start reading it tomorrow. Which one didn’t you think was a good read? Or, don’t you want to say?

  3. March 10, 2016 8:14 pm

    Care to make any predictions based on your knowledge of these writers?

    • March 10, 2016 8:22 pm

      Oh, Karen, the Stella is really hard to predict. A betting person would probably go for Charlotte Wood. Her book is getting such acclaim. I must read it. BUT with the Stella, you never quite know. (Well, you never do, do you.) Fiona Wright might be the outsider here – I mean it’s a book of essays so not the typical winner – and Harrower is an astonishing and hard-hitting writer so could also be a high chance. There’s three out of the six — hedging my bets and I still have a good chance of being wrong!

      • March 15, 2016 9:21 am

        thats half the fun really isn’t it, trying to play the guessing game, I always get the booker wrong

        • March 15, 2016 10:16 am

          It is … Pretending we are judges! Realising either we can’t be OR judges ares just as fallible and judgemental as us.

  4. March 10, 2016 11:32 pm

    I’ve not read any of the shortlist yet, and like you say, the Stella is unpredictable. They’ve been quite courageous with their choices for past winners, all very different books. I’m predicting Charlotte Wood’s book, except that they went with fiction last year and they might want a change! Maybe Wright’s book of essays, or Tegan Bennett Daylight’s short story collection. There you go—I’ve picked three out of six, too. Luckily, we don’t have to wait long to find out!

  5. March 11, 2016 3:49 am

    Get reading! I want to hear m ore about these especially the essays, the subtitle is intriguing.

    • March 11, 2016 8:05 am

      I will, Stefanie. I’ve started the essays. As you might imagine from the title and subtitle it’s about an experience with an eating disorder.

  6. March 11, 2016 8:07 am

    Thank you so much for sharing the list. I tend to lose track of the Stella’s what with the panic over not reading enough of the Bailey’s and Booker International contenders … I haven’t read any Australian fiction yet this year, so I’ll try to use these titles as a gentle prod to look further afield for my English language lit!

    • March 11, 2016 8:13 am

      I’m really glad to hear it’s of value Shoshi. Sometimes, because these lists are reported in the news, I think blogging these lists is a bit repetitive, but not everyone reads/hears the news, do they, and not everyone is in the country where the awards are announced and best known.

  7. March 11, 2016 8:17 am

    Okay Sue, I didn’t like The Natural Way of Things. Well written in parts, but I just didn’t connect with the story. I really disliked the ending.

    • March 11, 2016 2:36 pm

      You know, Meg, after I wrote my question to you, I thought that that was the one.

      I’ve started Fiona Wright and so far so good!

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