As you probably know, the Stella Prize is the award I particularly like to follow, though I don’t always post on the Longlist and the Shortlist as I am this year. The Longlist was announced on 8 February (my post), and the shortlist was announced, yesterday, International Women’s Day, as has, appropriately, become tradition.
Here is the shortlist:
- The enlightenment of the Greengage tree, by Shokoofeh Azar (Wild Dingo Press)
- Terra nullius, by Claire G Coleman (Hachette)
- The life to come, by Michelle de Kretser (A&U)
- An uncertain grace, by Krissy Kneen (Text)
- The fish girl, by Mirandi Riwoe (Seizure)
- Tracker, by Alexis Wright (Giramondo)
Interestingly, as has happened in the past, the proportion of non-fiction to fiction in the longlist has not carried through to the shortlist. Five of the twelve-strong longlist were non-fiction works, while just one of the six books in the shortlist is. And unfortunately, it’s not the one I’ve read! Seriously, though, I am glad to see Alexis Wright’s Tracker, which is about the Aboriginal leader, political thinker and entrepreneur Tracker Tilmouth, on the list. However, this pattern suggests that it is difficult to judge fiction against non-fiction and that the Stella Prize’s goal of offering one award irrespective of form or genre is perhaps harder to achieve that it sounds? In a sense I can understand it. If the award is about excellence in Australian writing, and if excellence includes some sense of innovation, then it is likely that such definition of “excellence” is more likely in fiction. (By the way, innovation to me can include experimenting/innovating in style, form, genre, structure, content, so it’s not impossible in non-fiction, just more constrained – perhaps?)
Anyhow, what do I think about the list? Well, firstly, I’m pleased so see that the list accommodates diversity. I’m also pleased to see that my pick, Terra nullius (which I’ll be reading soon) is on the list, and that The fish girl which I bought because of its long-listing is also on the list. I even mailed a copy to my American friend for her birthday this week. And, I’m not surprised to see The life to come and An uncertain grace on the list, given the quality of these writers and the buzz about their books. I’m disappointed, though, that the book I’m reading now, Sofie Laguna’s The choke, is not on the list – not because I believe it should be as I haven’t read enough of the books to make that assessment, but because it’s one I would have read when the winner is announced! Oh well … c’est la vie. Fortunately, I’m enjoying The choke so my reading time is certainly not wasted!
The winner receives $50,000, and each shortlisted author receives $3000, as well as a three-week writing retreat on the Victorian coast. It’s a lovely generous prize. The winner will be announced on 12 April.
Now, I’ll get back to my reading … but if you have any comments on the list, I’d love to hear them.