“I feel like we’re at the Oscars for nerds” tweeted Tracey Spicer, ABC Journalist, at tonight’s announcement of the 2017 Stella Prize Longlist. Love it. Nerds of the world unite!
When the longlist (of 12) was announced last year, I had read and reviewed only one of the books. By the end of the year, I had read 6 which I’m satisfied with given how much I read last year overall. This year I haven’t read any (yet)! Really? Where have I been?
The judges are different again to last year’s, with just the chair continuing. They are writer Delia Falconer, bookseller Diana Johnston, writer/memoirist Benjamin Law, academic/Chair of First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Inc. Sandra Phillips, and writer/chair Brenda Walker.
Anyhow, here is the longlist, including, sadly, two posthumous nominations:
- Victoria: the queen by Julia Baird (HarperCollins/Biography)
- Between a wolf and a dog by Georgia Blain (Scribe/Novel) (Posthumous)
- The hate race by Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hachette/Memoir)
- Poum and Alexandre by Catherine de Sainte Phalle (Transit Lounge/Novel)
- Offshore: Behind the wire at Manus and Nauru by Madeline Gleeson (NewSouth/Non-fiction)
- Avalanche by Julia Leigh (WW Norton/Memoir)
- An isolated incident by Emily Maguire (Picador/Novel) (Lisa named this as her book of the year last year, so I really should make this a priority)
- The high places: Stories by Fiona McFarlane (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Short stories)
- Wasted: A story of alcohol, grief and a death in Brisbane by Elspeth Muir (Text/Biography-Memoir)
- The museum of modern love by Heather Rose (Allen & Unwin/Novel)
- Dying: A memoir by Cory Taylor (Text/Memoir) (Posthumous)
- The media and the massacre: Port Arthur 1996-2016 by Sonya Voumard (Transit Lounge/Nonfiction)
As usual a mixed lot, but a different mix to last year’s. There’s significantly more non-fiction (more than half in fact), including a few memoirs – and fewer short stories. I suppose it’s purely coincidental, but I was surprised at the number of memoirs/autobiographies/biographies I read last year. Are memoirs making a come-back? I note that the list seems to be rather low on “diversity”, but two of the judges could be seen to represent diverse backgrounds, so presumably that issue was canvassed.
I have read and liked all the Stella Prize winners to date: Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with birds, Clare Wright’s The forgotten rebels of Eureka, Emily Bitto’s The strays and Charlotte Wood’s The natural way of things. I look forward to seeing which of the above books wins this year …
The shortlist will be announced on March 8, and the winner on April 18.