Unfortunately, because I’m on the road, I wasn’t able to “attend” the announcement earlier this evening, but at least I have been able to get my post out on the night, as it were.
As I say every year, I think, I don’t do well at having read the Stella Prize longlist at the time of its announcement. In 2017 I’d read none; in 2018, one, and in 2019, two! Last year, I was back to one! By the end of 2020, I’d read 3.5 which is worse than previous years.
Again, as I’ve said before, I do better at reading the winners, having read Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with birds (2013), Clare Wright’s The forgotten rebels of Eureka (2014), Emily Bitto’s The strays (2015), Charlotte Wood’s The natural way of things (2016), Heather Rose’s The museum of modern love (2017), and Vicki Laveau-Harvie’s The erratics (2019). So far, I’ve missed 2018’s winner, Alexis Wright’s Tracker, and I’m only halfway through reading last year’s winner, Jess Hill’s See what you made me do. I will finish though, as it’s a significant book I believe.
The judges are again different to last year’s with only Zoya Patel (this year’s chair), continuing on the panel: memoirist and editor Zoya Patel (Chair); playwright, author and Blak & Bright First Nations Literary Festival Director Jane Harrison; 3RRR radio producer, presenter and literary critic Elizabeth McCarthy; production editor of The Saturday Paper Ian See; and Deputy Programme Director at Edinburgh Book Festival Tamara Zimet. As always, attention has been paid to diversity on the panel.
- Rebecca Giggs’ Fathoms: The world in the whale (non-fiction)
- SL Lim’s Revenge (fiction) (Lisa’s review)
- Laura Jean McKay’s The animals in that country (fiction)
- Louise Milligan’s Witness (non-fiction)
- Cath Moore’s Metal fish, falling snow (fiction)
- Intan Paramaditha’s The wandering (fiction)
- Mirandi Riwoe’s Stone sky gold mountain (fiction) (on TBR; Kate’s mini-review)
- Ellena Savage’s Blueberries (non-fiction/essays)
- Nardi Simpson’s Song of the crocodile (fiction) (on TBR)
- Elizabeth Tan’s Smart ovens for lonely people (short stories) (Bill’s review and on TBR)
- Jessie Tu’s A lonely girl is a dangerous thing (fiction) (Kim’s review)
- Evie Wyld’s The bass rock (fiction)
Well, I guessed five of these might be in the list – McKay, Riwoe, Simpson, Tan and Tu, but I also guessed some more non-fiction like Grace Karskens’ People of the river, and Jacqueline Kent’s Vida. However, as I haven’t read any of the longlist – and have not, in fact, heard of several of them – I’m not going to judge. I’ll just say, how interesting!
Oh, and for the record, I’ve read none – though I have a few on my pile!
The judges’ chair, Zoya Patel commented on the longlist:
The 2021 Stella Prize longlist demonstrates the breadth of expression present in Australian literature, and the importance of raising the profile of women and non-binary voices in celebrating this expansive talent. In reading these titles, we pondered what might be lost or overlooked should a prize such as the Stella not exist to specifically examine the output of Australian women and non-binary writers. […]
This year’s reading presented a diversity of talent and expression, with books exploring the people and animals through the lens of fiction and non-fiction, and with a common objective to reach into the heart of what it means to exist in the world today.
To read the judges on each of the longlisted books, do check out the Stella website.
Stella’s announcements are all later this year than in previous years – including this longlist which has usually been announced in February. So, the shortlist will be announced on March 25, and the winner on April 22.