The Stella Prize 2018 Longlist
What is The Stella Prize?
The Stella Prize is presented for the best work of fiction or nonfiction by an Australian women published in the previous calendar year.
Speaking to Books + Publishing, c
hair of judges Fiona Stager said the longlist ‘challenges the reader to experience the pleasures of reading different forms of writing: speculative fiction, novella, memoir, biography, non-narrative nonfiction, history, short stories and work in translation’. ‘Included on the longlist are authors who have inverted genres through imaginative and subversive literary techniques,’ said Stager.
This year’s prize is judged by co-owner of Avid Reader Fiona Stager; author Julie Koh; editor, writer and poet Ellen van Neerven; writer and critic James Ley; and writer, editor and publisher Louise Swinn.
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar
This book is an extraordinarily powerful and evocative literary novel set in Iran in the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Using the lyrical magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling, Azar draws the reader deep into the heart of a family caught in the maelstrom of post-revolutionary chaos and brutality that sweeps across an ancient land and its people.
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is really an embodiment of Iranian life in constant oscillation, struggle and play between four opposing poles: life and death; politics and religion. The sorrow residing in the depths of our joy is the product of a life between these four poles.
Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness by Kate Cole Adams
A hundred and seventy years ago many people would have chosen to die rather than undergo theordeal of surgery. Today, even major operations are routine. Anaesthesia has made them possible. But how much do we really know about what happens when we go under? Can we hear what's going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it, or don't remember it afterwards? How does the unconscious mind deal with the body's experience of being cut open and ransacked? And what happens to those rare patients who wake up under the knife? Haunting, lyrical, sometimes shattering, Anaesthesia leavens science with personal experience - and brings an intensely human curiosity to the unknowable realm beyond consciousness.
A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work by Bernadette Brennan
Helen Garner is one of Australia's most important, and some would say, most admired living writers. That admiration is inspired by a sense that she is honest, authentic and fearless in the pursuit of her craft. But Garner also courts controversy, not least because she refuses to be constrained by the rules of literary form. She appears to write so much of herself into her non-fiction, and many of her own experiences inform her fiction. But who is the 'I' in Helen Garner's work? Dr Bernadette Brennan has had access to previously unavailable papers in Garner's archive, and she provides a lively and rigorous reading of the books, journals and correspondence of one of Australia's most beloved women of letters. A Writing Life is the first full-length study of Garner's work, a literary portrait that maps Garner's writing against the different stages of her life.
Terra Nullius by Claire G Coleman
'Jacky was running. There was no thought in his head, only an intense drive to run. There was no sense he was getting anywhere, no plan, no destination, no future. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from. Jacky was running.'
The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to have a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, reeducation is enforced. This rich land will provide for all.
This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history. This TERRA NULLIUS is something new, but all too familiar.
This is an incredible debut from a striking new Australian Aboriginal voice.
The Green Bell by Paula Keogh
It’s 1972 in Canberra. Michael Dransfield is being treated for a drug addiction; Paula Keogh is delusional and grief-stricken. They meet in a psychiatric unit of the Canberra Hospital and instantly fall in love.
Paula recovers a self that she thought was lost; Michael, a radical poet, is caught up in a rush of creative energy and writes poems that become The Second Month of Spring. Together, they plan for ‘a wedding, marriage, kids – the whole trip’. But outside the hospital walls, madness, grief and drugs challenge their luminous dream. Can their love survive?
The Green Bell is a lyrical and profoundly moving story about love and madness. It explores the ways that extreme experience can change us: expose our terrors and open us to ecstasy for the sake of a truer life, a reconciliation with who we are. Ultimately, the memoir reveals itself to be a hymn to life. A requiem for lost friends. A coming of age story that takes a lifetime.
The Choke by Sofie Laguna
The Choke is a mesmerising, harrowing and ultimately uplifting novel from the 2015 Miles Franklin winner.
I never had words to ask anybody the questions, so I never had the answers.
Abandoned by her mother and only occasionally visited by her secretive father, Justine is raised by her pop, a man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop's chooks and The Choke, where the banks of the Murray River are so narrow it seems they might touch - a place of staggering natural beauty. But the river can't protect Justine from danger. Her father is a criminal, and the world he exposes her to can be lethal.
Justine is overlooked and underestimated, a shy and often silent observer of her chaotic world. She learns that she has to make sense of it on her own. She has to find ways to survive so much neglect. She must hang on to friendship when it comes, she must hide when she has to, and ultimately she must fight back.
The Choke is a brilliant, haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power and violence, in which grown-ups can't be trusted and comfort can only be found in nature. This compassionate and claustrophobic vision of a child in danger and a society in trouble celebrates above all the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
Sofie Laguna, winner of the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award for The Eye of the Sheep, once again shows she is a writer of rare empathy, originality and blazing talent.
The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe
Sparked by the description of a GÇÿMalay trollopeGÇÖ in W. Somerset MaughamGÇÖs story, The Four Dutchmen, Mirandi RiwoeGÇÖs novella, The Fish Girl tells of an Indonesian girl whose life is changed irrevocably when she moves from a small fishing village to work in the house of a Dutch merchant. There she finds both hardship and tenderness as her traditional past and colonial present collide.
Told with an exquisitely restrained voice and coloured with lush description, this moving book will stay with you long after the last page.
Tracker by Alexis Wright
A collective memoir of one of Aboriginal Australia's
most charismatic leaders and an epic portrait of a period in the life of acountry, reminiscent in its scale and intimacy of the work of Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Svetlana Alexievich.
Miles Franklin Award-winning novelist Alexis Wright returns to
non-fiction in her new book, Tracker Tilmouth, a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker, and entrepreneur who died in Darwin in 2015. Taken from his
family as a child and brought up in a mission on Croker Island, Tracker Tilmouth returned home to transform the world of Aboriginal politics. He worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles, including Director of the
Central Land Council. He was a visionary and a projector of ideas, renowned for his irreverent humour and his anecdotes. His memoir has been composed by Wright from interviews with Tilmouth himself, as well as with his family, friends, and colleagues, weaving his and their stories together into a book that is as much a tribute to the role played by storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life as it is to the legacy of a remarkable man.
The shortlist will be announced on 8 March and the winner at a ceremony in Sydney on 12 April.