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Stella Prize and Christina Stead Prize for Fiction 2021 Shortlists announced

March 25, 2021

With two shortlists being announced on the heels of each other, I thought I would combine them into one post, so here goes …

Stella Prize Shortlist

The Stella Prize shortlist was announced this morning and is, I suppose, a bit of a surprise for me – though I haven’t read the books so I have nothing to base that on. I was hoping Ellen Savage’s Blueberries, Nardi Simpson’s Song of the crocodile and Elizabeth Savage’s Smart ovens for lonely people would be in the list as they are on my TBR or I’m keen to read them. However, besides the Stella judges, I have it on good authority from other bloggers that many of the books below are excellent reads, so … on with the show … and I’ll see what I can read!

The shortlist

Book cover

Stella’s Executive Director, Jaclyn Booton makes a political point – which is very Stella!:

As recent events have shown, there’s significant cultural change needed in this country to ensure women’s voices are heard. Books can be a tool for positive social change – I encourage everyone to seek out these books and delve into the stories and perspectives within.

The judge’s chair, Zoya Patel, says:

“The 2021 Stella Prize shortlist truly demonstrates the immensity of talent in Australian women and non-binary authors. This shortlist is varied, diverse, and reflects on urgent themes across the gamut of human experience.

To read the judges on each of the shortlisted books, do check out the Stella website.

The winner will be announced on April 22.

NSW Premiers Literary Awards

Unlike the Stella, these awards comprise several categories, but I’m just going to share the two fiction ones.

Book cover

The Christina Stead Prize for Fiction

  • Kate Grenville’s A room made of leaves
  • Carol LeFevre’s Murmurations (my review)
  • Laura McPhee-Browne’s Cherry Beach
  • Pip Williams’ The dictionary of lost words
  • Charlotte Wood’s The weekend (my review)
  • Evie Wyld’s The bass rock

UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing

  • Erin Hortle’s The octopus and I
  • Laura McPhee-Browne’s Cherry Beach
  • Sean O’Beirne’s A couple of things before the end
  • Nardi Simpson’s Song of the crocodile
  • Madeleine Watts’ The Inland Sea

For more categories in these awards, and links to her own and other bloggers’ reviews, please see Lisa’s post on them.

Any comments?

20 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2021 11:19

    Thanks for the mention:)
    I think I may have said this before, but I’m not surprised by the Stella. It is what it is.
    But there are omissions from the NSW PLA that are surprising. I’ve only read The Weekend, The Dictionary of Lost Words and The Octopus and I, so I can’t comment on the others except to say that I haven’t read them because (with the exception of Murmurations which is en route to me, and of Song of the Crocodile which I have put by for #ILW2021, they don’t appeal). I’d replace any or nearly all of these with highly satisfying, beautifully crafted and significant books which will endure, such as Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey; The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte; The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan; The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey; Symphony for the Man, by Sarah Brill; Dragon’s Gate by Vivian Bi; and Fauna by Donna Mazza.
    Which just shows you how out of touch I am (unrepentantly) with the zeitgeist.

    • March 25, 2021 12:11

      Thanks Lisa. I’m really glad you have ordered Murmurations.

      Stella of course is deferent for many reasons including being multiple forms and genres.

      Some of those books you name sound good to me but live not read them or most of the NSW shortlist so I can’t comment. My reading group is doing Conte so I look forward to that.

  2. March 25, 2021 13:16

    Thanks for including my review of The Bass Rock Sue. It remains one of my favourite books. 🤞 for the win!

    • March 25, 2021 13:26

      A pleasure, Theresa. I will really have to try to read it. I liked her All the birds, singing.

  3. March 25, 2021 20:45

    If you wanted to, I have reviews for Dictionary, Fathoms and Cherry Beach.
    I’m also keen to read Murmurations after reading your review (MacDonald talks about murmurations in one of her essays in Vesper Flights as well).

    One of my colleagues read and loved the Octopus book, so I may try to read that soon too.

    • March 25, 2021 22:40

      Thanks Brona, I usually just add one review per book because otherwise I can just go on forever, and it’s hard to know where to stop, so I’ll look for the ones I don’t have.

      In my review of Murmurations, I mention McDonald, which I guess you noticed. I wonder whether the essay you read is the article I read, maybe worked up a bit?

      • March 25, 2021 22:57

        I’ve reread your post & the earlier one & yes the essay you read seems to be the same one in Vesper Flights. It was a powerful discussion on the nature of immigration & native species & refugees.

        • March 26, 2021 09:00

          Thanks Brona. It was a great essay, for that reason I thought.

          (I’ve added your Fathoms to my Stella reviews, but have left Cherry Beach because rather than copy over all the reviews Lisa found, I thought it fair to link to her blog, where your Cherry Beach is. Hope that’s OK.)

        • March 26, 2021 09:01

          That’s perfectly fine. It’s your blog 😊 I know how time consuming it is to link posts from other blogs.

        • March 26, 2021 09:06


  4. March 25, 2021 22:29

    I’m keen to read The Weekend and The Bass Rock.

    • March 25, 2021 22:47

      Great Cathy. I want to read The bass rock, too. I’d be interested in what you think about The weekend if you read it, as it’s had some mixed responses.

  5. March 27, 2021 08:23

    I’ve not heard of any of the Stella listed books but have definitely heard a lot about 4 of the NSW Fiction list. Wonder what’s going on there…….

    No Richard Flanagan in either award though? That’s very strange

    • March 27, 2021 09:04

      That’s probably not surprising Karen, but perhaps a little disappointing! I’m glad that you’ve heard a lot about 4 of the NSW list. That’s positive for Aussie lit!

      • March 28, 2021 06:02

        You and Lisa and co have a lot to do with that to be frank.

        • March 28, 2021 10:20

          That’s great Karen , though I guess l’d hoped it might have been more because they are getting airing in the popular media. Still any awareness is better than none, isn’t it?

  6. April 6, 2021 06:24

    I loved All the Birds Singing, so I’m really hoping to the Bass Rock sometime soon!

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