Stella Prize 2022 Longlist announced

Apologies to those of you who look forward to my Monday Musings post, but I’ve gazumped this week’s edition, because the Stella Prize longlist was announced this evening, and I do like to report on that. I attended the online streamed announcement.

As I say every year, I don’t do well at having read the Stella Prize longlist at the time of its announcement. In recent years the most I’ve read has been two (in 2019). Last year it was none. I don’t expect much better this year.

I was, however, doing 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). But, that’s slipping too. So far, I’ve missed 2018’s winner, Alexis Wright’s Tracker, am still reading 2020’s winner, Jess Hill’s See what you made me do, and still have last year’s winner, Evie Wyld’s The bass rock on my TBR.

The judges are a complete changeover from last year’s with the excellent, multi-award-winning Melissa Lucashenko taking the role of chair. Her co-judges are writer, poet, essayist Declan Fry; author-across-all-forms Cate Kennedy; memoirist and activist Sisonke Msimang; and essayist and screenwriter Oliver Reeson. As always, attention has been paid to diversity on the panel.

Oh, and I should note that a new form has been added to those eligible for the prize this year, single-author poetry collections. An excellent decision – as it turns out.

The longlist

  • Randa Abdel-Fattah, Coming of age in the War on Terror (nonfiction)
  • Eunice Andrada, Take care (poetry)
  • Evelyn Araluen, Dropbear (poetry) (TBR, Brona’s review)
  • Paige Clark, She is haunted (short stories)
  • Anwen Crawford, No document (memoir) (Lisa’s review)
  • Jennifer Down, Bodies of light (novel)
  • Anita Heiss, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (novel) (TBR, Lisa’s review)
  • Lee Lai, Stone fruit (graphic novel)
  • SJ Norman, Permafrost (short stories)
  • Elfie Shiosaki, Homecoming (memoir) (Lisa’s review)
  • Lucy Van, The Open (poetry) 
  • Chelsea Watego’s Another day in the colony (nonfiction) (Bill’s post)

I didn’t have a strong feel for what might be on the list, but did guess four that ended up there – Araluen, Crawford, Down and Watego. I should have thought of Heiss. On the other hand, although I haven’t read it yet, I was hoping to see Melinda Bobis’ The kindness of birds. However, as I haven’t read any of the longlist, I’m not going to judge. But I will say that the panel discussion that followed the announcement made powerful arguments for their choices. It might be a cliched thing to say, but it looks like a brave list that is likely to challenge readers.

In the lively and very enjoyable online discussion, the panel made some overall comments, as well as discussing individual books. They said that the flavour of the year was poetry. There are, in fact, three on the list. Interestingly, there are only two novels, but there is a graphic novel, and there are two short story collections, so fiction is still well represented. That leaves four works of nonfiction to round out the twelve.

The panel was “excited to have all genres in the list”, and made the strong point that it’s the message that matters more than the medium. It was very clear, as the evening progressed, that message was a critical issue for this panel, that works that interrogate and fiercely tackle the serious matters confronting us, are what most attracted them – whether from a political, or personal point of view, or both. As one who loves “message” in literature, I appreciate this. However, lest all this sound too bleakly serious, they also made the point that although the books are all “quite challenging”, in most there’s also wit, if not, in some, laugh-out-loud humour.

Finally, I’ll close with judging panel chair, Melissa Lucashenko’s opening comments:

In the aftermath of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, Stella writers are not holding back… Australian women and non-binary writers are producing innovative, sophisticated literature in very difficult times. It has been a great privilege to read and assess their work for the 2022 Stella Prize.

To read more, do check out the Stella website.

The shortlist will be announced on 31 March, and the winner on 28 April.

Any comments?

18 thoughts on “Stella Prize 2022 Longlist announced

      • I know, it’s definitely unusual. I was a bit confounded by the list, some I haven’t even heard of and I haven’t been out of AWW that long! I can’t even honestly say I do want to read any of them, either. Stella definitely likes to throw curveballs!

        • Ha ha Theresa, you are not “out of” AWW if you are still doing Facebook! I had heard of most, but yes, not all. I’d be happy to read many of them, actually, but as always, time is the issue.

        • Time is always the issue!! I know, I’m not out of it at all, the groups are going strong and nothing seems to have changed on the Facebook front. Although a lot of our members there are less inclined to read other forms of writing. We have a few who do, but not enough to see any widespread mentioning of titles such as these.

        • Yes, that’s what I guessed Theresa, that the Facebook readers mostly read the better known books, which is great but as you say doesn’t bring other titles to the fore. I’m so glad it’s still going strong. That’s fantastic.

  1. I would’ve been more content if the “non-binary” issue had not been pointed up. Just .. women. Let all those who have special identties be happy to be included.

    • Thanks Lisa, I’ll add that, when I get to be laptop.

      Actually, there are a few that interest me – including the three you’re read. The Crawford in particular, sounded interesting from your post, and of course, Heiss, which I’ll read for ILW if not before. Arawen. Clark, Down and Watego in particular I’d add to the three you’ve read.

      I rather love the Stella because they are always a bit “out there” and I think that’s healthy for our literary culture? In being so broad, though, they are probably not going to fully align with most readers’ preferences, but they will hopefully offer everyone something? The trouble is it sounds like you’ve already read your “something”!

  2. I’ll be keen to read the other 2 poetry books on this list. I also have She is Haunted on my TBR pile. Permafrost sounds interesting, as does Watego’s book, esp after reading Bill’s thoughts. One of my colleagues is planning to read the graphic novel and I wouldn’t mind giving No Document a try as well.

    I was very happy to see small presses represented so strongly in this list – UQP, Cordite & Giramondo in particular.

  3. I’ve only read Bodies of Light (loved it, but it’s a ‘big’ book that is very sad). I’ll probably read No Document next, but unlikely to get through the whole longlist. Anyway, I’ve placed a bunch of reserves at the library, so I’ll see what arrives next!

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