Yesterday, Australia’s Stella Prize announced it’s first ever shortlist! For those unfamiliar with the award, here’s how it’s described on its official website:
The Stella Prize is a major new literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing. It is named after one of Australia’s iconic female authors, Stella Maria ‘Miles’ Franklin, and celebrates women’s contribution to Australian literature. The Stella Prize rewards one writer with a significant monetary prize of $50,000.
The Stella Prize raises the profile of women’s writing through the Stella Prize longlists and shortlists, encourages a future generation of women writers, and brings readers to the work of Australian women.
Below we’ve posted covers and descriptions for each of the six shortlisted titles. The winner of the award will be announced April 16th.
By Courtney Collins
A breathtakingly brilliant debut novel in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy – inspired by Australia’s last bushranger, young woman Jessie Hickman.It is the dawn of the twentieth century in Australia and a woman has done an unspeakable thing.Twenty-two-year-old Jessie has served a two-year sentence for horse rustling. As a condition of her release she is apprenticed to Fitzgerald ‘Fitz’ Henry, who wants a woman to allay his loneliness in a valley populated by embittered ex-soldiers. Fitz wastes no time in blackmailing Jessie and involving her in his business of horse rustling and cattle duffing.
When Fitz is wounded in an accident he hires Aboriginal stockman, Jack Brown, to steal horses with Jessie. Soon both Jack Brown and Jessie are struggling against the oppressive and deadening grip of Fitz.One catastrophic night turns Jessie’s life on its head and she must flee for her life. From her lonely outpost, the mountains beckon as a place to escape. First she must bury the evidence. But how do you bury the evidence when the evidence is part of yourself?
Inspired by the life of Jessie Hickman, legendary twentieth-century bushranger, The Burial is a stunning debut novel, a work of haunting originality and power. (from the hardcover edition)
Questions of Travel
By Michelle de Kretser
A dazzling, compassionate and deeply moving novel from one of world literature’s rising stars.
A mesmerising literary novel, Questions of Travel charts two very different lives. Laura travels the world before returning to Sydney, where she works for a publisher of travel guides. Ravi dreams of being a tourist until he is driven from Sri Lanka by devastating events.Around these two superbly drawn characters, a double narrative assembles an enthralling array of people, places and stories – from Theo, whose life plays out in the long shadow of the past, to Hana, an Ethiopian woman determined to reinvent herself in Australia. (From the hardcover edition)
The Sunlit Zone
By Lisa Jacobson
The Sunlit Zone is a novel in verse that is at once magical and irresistible. It is also a moving elergy of love and loss, admirable for its narrative sweep and the family dynamic that drives it. It’s darkly futuristic and is a risk-taking work of rare, imaginative power. (from the hardcover edition)
Like A House On Fire
By Cate Kennedy
From prize-winning short-story writer Cate Kennedy comes a new collection to rival her highly acclaimed Dark Roots. In Like a House on Fire, Kennedy once again takes ordinary lives and dissects their ironies, injustices and pleasures with her humane eye and wry sense of humour. In ‘Laminex and Mirrors’, a young woman working as a cleaner in a hospital helps an elderly patient defy doctor’s orders. In ‘Cross-Country’, a jilted lover manages to misinterpret her ex’s new life. And in ‘Ashes’, a son accompanies his mother on a journey to scatter his father’s remains, while lifelong resentments simmer in the background. Cate Kennedy’s poignant short stories find the beauty and tragedy in illness and mortality, life and love. (from the hardcover edition)
Mateship With Birds
By Carrie Tiffany
Mateship n. the quality or state of being a mate; esp: fellowship
On the outskirts of a country town in the early 1950s, a lonely farmer trains his binoculars on a raucous family of kookaburras roosting next to his dairy. As Harry observes the birds through a year of feast, famine, birth, death, war, romance and song, his neighbour, Betty, has her own set of binoculars trained on him. Betty’s son, Michael, gravitates to the gentle man next door, and Harry, sensing Michael is ready to stretch his wings, decides to teach him about sex. Harry knows everything about the land. But what does he know about women? Mateship with Birds is a tender, witty novel of young lust and mature love. A glorious tale of innocence lost, it celebrates life on one small farm in a vast ancient landscape, as a collection of misfits question what a family might be. (from the hardcover edition)
By Margo Lanagan
A mesmerising selkie novel from multi-award winning, internationally acclaimed Australian author, Margo Lanagan – one of the most exciting voices in speculative fiction.
A HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL NOVEL FROM THE WINNER OF FOUR WORLD FANTASY AWARDS.
‘Why would I? People are uneasy enough with me – if I start bringing up sea-wives, they’ll take against me good and proper.’ ‘It could be secret.’
On remote Rollrock Island, the sea-witch Misskaella discovers she can draw a girl from the heart of a seal. So, for a price, any man might buy himself a bride; an irresistibly enchanting sea-wife. But what cost will be borne by the people of Rollrock – the men, the women, the children – once Misskaella sets her heart on doing such a thing? (from the hardcover edition)
Have you read any of the six titles on the 2013 Stella Prize shortlist? Who do you think will win? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.