The 2016 Stella Prize longlist

The Stella PrizeEarlier today (or evening Australian time) the longlist for the 2016 Stella Prize was announced. The $50,000 prize is for Australian women writers and only books, both fiction and non-fiction, published between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2015 were eligible

The dozen varied titles on it are as follows:

The Women's Pages by Debra Adelaide
The Women’s Page
s by Debra Adelaide (Pan Macmillan)
Ellis, an ordinary suburban young woman of the 1960s, is troubled by secrets and gaps in her past that become more puzzling as her creator, Dove, writes her story fifty years later. Having read Wuthering Heights to her dying mother, Dove finds she cannot shake off the influence of that singular novel: it has infected her like a disease. Instead of returning to her normal life she follows the story it has inspired to discover more about Ellis, who has emerged from the pages of fiction herself — or has she? — to become a modern successful career woman.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t appear to be published outside of Australia.

The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop
The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop (Hachette)
Cambridge 1963. Charlotte struggles to reconnect with the woman she was before children, and to find the time and energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, cannot face the thought of another English winter. A brochure slipped through the letterbox gives him the answer: ‘Australia brings out the best in you’. Charlotte is too worn out to resist, and before she knows it is travelling to the other side of the world. But on their arrival in Perth, the southern sun shines a harsh light on both Henry and Charlotte and slowly reveals that their new life is not the answer either was hoping for. Charlotte is left wondering if there is anywhere she belongs, and how far she’ll go to find her way home…
Published in the UK by Tinder in hardcover and ebook.

Panthers and the Museum of Fire by Jen Craig
Panthers and the Museum of Fire
by Jen Craig (Spineless Wonders)
Complex, urgent, and fascinating, this novella about walking, memory, and writing has earned comparisons from Woolf to Knausgaard. The narrator walks from Glebe to a central Sydney café to return a manuscript by a recently dead writer. While she walks, the reader enters the narrator’s entire world: life with family and neighbors, narrow misses with cars, her singular friendships, dinner conversations, and work. We learn of her adolescent desire for maturity and acceptance through a brush with religion, her anorexia, the exercise of that power when she was powerless in every other aspect of her life.
Published in the UK  in paperback and ebook.

Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight
Six Bedrooms
by Tegan Bennett Daylight (Random House)
Six Bedrooms is about growing up; about discovering sex; and about coming of age. Full of glorious angst, embarrassment and small achievements. Hot afternoons on school ovals, the terrifying promise of losing your virginity, sneaking booze from your mother’s pantry, the painful sophistication and squalor of your first share house, cancer, losing a parent. Tegan Bennett Daylight’s powerful collection captures the dangerous, tilting terrain of becoming adult. Over these ten stories, we find acute portrayals of loss and risk, of sexual longing and wreckage, blunders and betrayals. Threaded through the collection is the experience of troubled, destructive Tasha, whose life unravels in unexpected ways, and who we come to love for her defiance, her wit and her vulnerability.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t appear to be published outside of Australia.

Hope Farm by Peggy Frew
Hope Farm
by Peggy Frew (Scribe)
It is the winter of 1985. Hope Farm sticks out of the ragged landscape like a decaying tooth, its weatherboard walls sagging into the undergrowth. Silver’s mother, Ishtar, has fallen for the charismatic Miller, and the three of them have moved to the rural hippie commune to make a new start. At Hope, Silver finds unexpected friendship and, at last, a place to call home. But it is also here that, at just thirteen, she is thrust into an unrelenting adult world — and the walls begin to come tumbling down, with deadly consequences.
Published in the UK  in ebook and audio book.

A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories by Elizabeth Harrower
A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories
by Elizabeth Harrower (Text)
Internationally acclaimed for her five brilliant novels, Elizabeth Harrower is also the author of a small body of short fiction. A Few Days in the Country brings together for the first time her stories published in Australian journals in the 1960s and 1970s, along with those from her archives—including ‘Alice’, published for the first time earlier this year in the New Yorker. Essential reading for Harrower fans, these finely turned pieces show a broader range than the novels, ranging from caustic satires to gentler explorations of friendship.
Published in the UK in ebook format. The hardcover will be published on 31 March.

A Guide to Berlin by Gail Jones
A Guide to Berlin
by Gail Jones (Random House)
A group of six international travellers, two Italians, two Japanese, an American and an Australian, meet in empty apartments in Berlin to share stories and memories. Each is enthralled in some way to the work of Vladimir Nabokov, and each is finding their way in deep winter in a haunted city. A moment of devastating violence shatters the group, and changes the direction of everyone’s story. Brave and brilliant, A Guide to Berlin traces the strength and fragility of our connections through biographies and secrets.
Published in the UK in paperback and ebook.

The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau
The World Without Us
by Mireille Juchau (Bloomsbury)
It has been six months since Tess Müller stopped speaking. Her silence is baffling to her parents, her teachers and her younger sister Meg, but the more urgent mystery for both girls is where their mother, Evangeline, goes each day, pushing an empty pram and returning home wet, muddy and dishevelled. Their father, Stefan, struggling with his own losses, tends to his apiary and tries to understand why his bees are disappearing. But after he discovers a car wreck and human remains on their farm, old secrets emerge to threaten the fragile family.
Published in the UK in hardcover and ebook.

A Short History of Richard Kline by Amanda Lohrey
A Short History of Richard Kline
by Amanda Lohrey (Black Inc)
All his life, Richard Kline has been haunted by a sense that something is lacking. He envies the ease with which some people slip – seemingly unquestioningly – into contented suburban life or the pursuit of wealth. As he moves into middle age, Richard grows increasingly angry. But then a strange event awakens him to a different way of living. He finds himself on a quest, almost against his own will, to resolve the ‘divine discontent’ he has suffered since childhood. From pharmaceuticals to new age therapies and finding a guru, Richard’s journey dramatises the search for meaning in today’s world.
Published in the UK in paperback and ebook.

Anchor Point by Alice Robinson
Anchor Point
by Alice Robinson (Affirm Press)
When her mother disappears into the bush, 10-year-old Laura makes an impulsive decision that will haunt her for decades. Despite her anger and grief, she sets about running the house, taking care of her younger sister, and helping her father clear their wild acreage to carve out a farm. But gradually they realise that while they may own the land, they cannot tame it – nor can they escape their past.
Published in the UK in ebook.

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
The Natural Way of Things
by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)
Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage – a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a ‘nurse’. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue, but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.
Only published in Australia; due to be published in the UK in June.

Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright
Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger
by Fiona Wright (Giramondo)
Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of ten essays that describes the author’s affliction with an eating disorder which begins in high school, and escalates into life-threatening anorexia over the next ten years. Fiona Wright is a highly regarded poet and critic, and her account of her illness is informed by a keen sense of its contradictions and deceptions, and by an awareness of the empowering effects of hunger, which is unsparing in its consideration of the author’s own actions and motivations. The essays offer perspectives on the eating disorder at different stages in Wright’s life, at university, where she finds herself in a radically different social world to the one she grew up in, in Sri Lanka as a fledgling journalist, in Germany as a young writer, in her hospital treatments back in Sydney. They combine research, travel writing, memoir, and literary discussions of how writers like Christina Stead, Carmel Bird, Tim Winton, John Berryman and Louise Glück deal with anorexia and addiction; together with accounts of family life, and detailed and humorous views of hunger-induced situations of the kind that are so compelling in Wright’s poetry.
Published in the UK in ebook.

The shortlist will be announced at 12 noon AEDT on Thursday 10 March and the winner named on Tuesday 19 April.

Have you read any of these books? Or have any piqued your interest?

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9 thoughts on “The 2016 Stella Prize longlist

  1. There are a few on here that I would love to read – The Natural Way of Things, The Other Side of the World, Small Acts of Disappearance, and I really want to know where Evangeline is going each day with the pram. Are you planning to try to read them all?

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  2. No, won’t read them all because it will bankrupt me trying to buy them…those that are ebook only are hugely expensive. But I have a handful that I will tackle over the next few weeks, and, ideally it would be good to try to read the full shortlist when it’s announced next month.

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  3. I’m particularly interested in Small Acts of Disappearance. I have a niece who has sn eating disorder so I’m hoping it has some insights. Also Anchor Point sounds particularly good.

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  4. Hope Farm was astonishly good! Was very impressed. The Wood is at the top of the TBR pile (purchased when I returned briefly to Oz back in Nov).

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  5. Pingback: ‘Panthers & The Museum of Fire’ by Jen Craig | Reading Matters

  6. Pingback: ‘A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories’ by Elizabeth Harrower | Reading Matters

  7. Pingback: ‘The World Without Us’ by Mireille Juchau | Reading Matters

  8. Pingback: ‘The Other Side of the World’ by Stephanie Bishop | Reading Matters

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