Stella Prize 2022 Shortlist announced

The 2022 Stella Prize shortlist was announced, yesterday. But, as I had just posted my review of Gabrielle Carey’s Only happiness here, I decided to hold my announcement post over for a day. Those of you keenly interested will have seen it, but at least I will have it for my records.

Just to remind you, the judges are author Melissa Lucashenko, in the chair, with her co-judges being writer, poet, essayist Declan Fry; author-across-all-forms Cate Kennedy; memoirist and activist Sisonke Msimang; and essayist and screenwriter Oliver Reeson

And remember, this year poetry was added as a form eligible for the prize – and, it seems to have been a popular decision because, well, look at the …

The shortlist

  • Eunice Andrada, Take care (poetry)
  • Evelyn Araluen, Dropbear (poetry) (TBR, Brona’s review)
  • Anwen Crawford, No document (memoir) (Lisa’s review)
  • Jennifer Down, Bodies of light (novel)
  • Lee Lai, Stone fruit (graphic novel)
  • Elfie Shiosaki, Homecoming (memoir) (Lisa’s review)

So, two books of poetry, two memoirs and two novels (one being a graphic novel.) Three of the four I thought might have made it to the longlist – Araluen, Crawford, and Down – have now made it through to the shortlist. The announcement email I received from Stella said the list spanned “fiction, nonfiction, social history, a book-length essay, a graphic novel, and – eligible for the first time in 2022 – poetry”.  It also noted that “half of the shortlisted books written by debut authors.”

I will try to read at least the one I have on my TBR before the winner is announced, but I’d actually like to read all of these.

Melissa Lucashenko says that the shortlist:

is big on emerging voices writing in unconventional ways –  from regions, positions, and literary forms that transcend the mainstream. These authors are writing back, insisting that ‘other’ lives – First Nations lives, poor women’s lives, queer lives, and Filipina lives – matter on the page just as they do in everyday affairs. Although the shortlisted authors vary widely in location, gender, and culture, they all share two things. First, all six shortlistees undertake the essential work of any artist: paying attention to what is happening around them, and interrogating that experience. Second, the authors have produced powerfully beautiful literature, sacrificing no art in their unflinching focus on justice, inclusion, and truth-telling. It has been a great pleasure as well as an honour, to shine a light on these six brilliant talents.”

There’s more on the shortlist on the Stella website.

The winner on 28 April.

Any comments?

16 thoughts on “Stella Prize 2022 Shortlist announced

    • I think you need to explain what you mean M-R … the source vs the product? I’m guessing the product is the list and you don’t like it? But what do you mean by the source?

      • Explanation is that I feel the panel might’ve spent more time on being diverse in their choices than they did on their judgements (source being originators and product being works).

        • Thanks M-R , I guessed what product meant but wasn’t sure about source.

          There’s probably an element of truth that this is an even more “political” selection than usual but then what selection isn’t really? Stella has a very strong diversity goal so if the panel had diversity high and pushing the boundaries on its criteria that wouldn’t be surprising.

          You could say that many of the other awards are just as “political”. It’s just that the politics are to not step too much out of the box, and that sort of politics doesn’t come across so obviously as politics? It seems normal?

  1. I would have liked Anita Heiss’s book to make the shortlist. I was watching a news report about the floods in Gundagai, and the reporter actually acknowledged that local Aborigines had advised settlers not to build on the floodplain, had been ignored, and that after the floods of 1852, they re-sited the town on higher ground. But there was no mention that Jacky Jacky and Yarri had saved the lives of 69 people in those floods. There’s a statue of these heroes in Gundagai, but clearly this is not a story that is not well-known, and should be.
    It’s not just that the novel tells an important story, it’s also very good reading.

    • Too many books I guess, Lisa, and Stella being open to so many genres is particularly tricky. It does look like this panel was determined to think outside the box which is not necessarily a bad thing given the way most prizes go but it does mean some more “traditional” (in terms of style and form) reads might get overlooked?

      BTW I love going into Gundagai and looking at the river plain there and the old bridges. I must say though that I wasn’t aware of that story until a few years ago when, it seems to me, Gundagai, like so many country towns, started to be interested in its own history. I used to drive through Gundagai a lot in the mid-70s when a friend lived in Tumut and I can see the difference between then and now in terms of town pride.

      I will Reid Heist’s book for your ILW this year if not before!

  2. I haven’t read any of them, and so I shouldn’t comment, I suppose. It seems very poetry-heavy – both the two memoirs seem quite poetic in their layout and format.

  3. In the past, one of the reasons put forward by the Stella Prize for not including poetry was the difficulty of finding judges willing (or expert enough?) to make a judgement across three very different categories. Obviously things have changed, which is terrific. My money is on Evelyn Araluen for the win.

    • Oh that’s interesting insight Michelle. It makes sense. Poetry appreciation feels like a particularly different skill. Seeing all the positive vibes coming from multiple quarters for Drop bear that’s the one I’d bet on if I had to!

  4. No Document is the only other one on this list currently on my TBR pile. I’ve popped it into my work backpack so that I will hopefully have it read by the time the winner is announced.
    But I’m with you & Michelle, I think that Drop Bear will win too.

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