The longlist for the 2013 Stella Prize has just been announced, containing a great mix of exciting new talents and familiar faces.
Named after one of Australia’s most important female authors, Stella Maria Miles Franklin, the Stella Prize is worth $50,000, and both fiction and non-fiction books are eligible.
The 2013 Stella Prize shortlist will be announced on Wednesday 20 March. The inaugural Stella Prize will be awarded in Melbourne on the evening of Tuesday 16 April.
Don’t miss the chance to grab a copy of these fantastic books and judge them for yourself with the help of Booktopia.
by Romy Ash
Tom and Jordy have been living with their gran since the day their mother, Loretta, left them on her doorstep and disappeared.
Now Loretta’s returned, and she wants her boys back.
Tom and Jordy hit the road with Loretta in her beat-up car. The family of three journeys across the country, squabbling, bonding, searching and reconnecting.
But Loretta isn’t mother material. She’s broke, unreliable, lost. And there’s something else that’s not quite right with this reunion.
They reach the west coast and take refuge in a beachside caravan park. Their neighbour, a surly old man, warns the kids tostay away. But when Loretta disappears again the boys have no choice but to askthe old man for help, and now they face new threats and new fears.
This beautifully written and gripping debut is as moving as it is frightening, and as heartbreaking as it is tender.
Romy Ash is a Melbourne-based writer. She has written for GriffithREVIEW, the Big Issue and frankie magazine. She has a regular cooking column in Yen magazine and writes for the blog Trotski & Ash. The forthcoming Voracious: New Australian Food Writing features one of her essays.
Floundering is her first novel.
by Dylan Coleman
Winner of the 2011 David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writing
Growing up on the Mission isn’t easy for clever Grace Oldman. When her classmates tease her for not having a father, she doesn’t know what to say. Pappa Neddy says her dad is the Lord God in Heaven, but that doesn’t help when the Mission kids call her a bastard. As Grace slowly pieces together clues that might lead to answers, she struggles to find a place in a community that rejects her for reasons she doesn’t understand.
In Mazin Grace, Dylan Coleman fictionalises her mother’s childhood at the Koonibba Lutheran Mission in South Australia in the 1940s and 50s. Woven through the narrative are the powerful, rhythmic sounds of Aboriginal English and Kokatha language.
Mazin Grace is the inspirational story of a feisty girl who refuses to be told who she is, determined to uncover the truth for herself.
Dylan Coleman is a Kokatha-Greek woman who grew up in Thevenard, on the far west coast of South Australia. She has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Adelaide, where she teaches Indigenous health, and her short stories have been published in Southerly and various anthologies. For over twenty years Dylan has worked across Aboriginal education, health, land rights, and the Arts, with a focus on Aboriginal community engagement and social justice. Dylan lives on the outskirts of Adelaide with her partner and son.
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.
The Burial is the debut novel of Courtney Collins. It has been optioned for a feature film by Pure Pictures. Courtney’s next work in progress, The Walkman Mix has already received attention through the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Award 2011. Courtney grew up in the Hunter Valley in NSW. She now lives on the Goulburn River in regional Victoria.
by Robin de Crespigny
Winner of the Queensland Literary Awards 2012 – Non-Fiction
The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi, the ‘Oskar Schlindler of Asia. At once a non-fiction thriller and a moral maze, this is one man’s epic story of trying to find a safe place in the world.
When Ali Al Jenabi flees Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers, he is forced to leave his family behind in Iraq. What follows is an incredible international odyssey through the shadow world of fake passports, crowded camps and illegal border crossings, living every day with excruciating uncertainty about what the next will bring.
Through betrayal, triumph, misfortune – even romance and heartbreak – Ali is sustained by his fierce love of freedom and family. Continually pushed to the limits of his endurance, eventually he must confront what he has been forced to become.
With enormous power and insight, The People Smuggler tells a story of daily heroism, bringing to life the forces that drive so many people to put their lives in unscrupulous hands. It is an utterly gripping portrait of a man cut loose from the protections of civilisation, attempting to retain his dignity and humanity while taking whatever path he can out of an impossible position.
‘An engrossing account of a figure seen by some as saviour and others as criminal. A significant book.’ Thomas Keneally
Robin de Crespigny has spent three years working with Ali Al Jenabi to write his story. She is a film maker and lives in Sydney. This is her first book.
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.
Award-winning author Michelle de Kretser illuminates travel, work and modern dreams in this brilliant evocation of the way we live now. Wonderfully written, Questions of Travel is an extraordinary work of imagination – a transformative, very funny and intensely moving novel.
Michelle de Kretser was born in Sri Lanka and emigrated to Australia when she was 14. Educated in Melbourne and Paris, Michelle has worked as a university tutor, an editor and a book reviewer.
She is the author of The Rose Grower, The Hamilton Case, which won the Commonwealth Prize (SE Asia and Pacific region) and the UK Encore Prize, and The Lost Dog, which was widely praised by writers such as AS Byatt, Hilary Mantel and William Boyd and won a swag of awards, including: the 2008 NSW Premier’s Book of the Year Award and the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and the 2008 ALS Gold Medal.
The Lost Dog was also shortlisted for the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, the Western Australian Premier’s Australia-Asia Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Asia-Pacific Region) and Orange Prize’s Shadow Youth Panel. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction.
by Amy Espeseth
Ruth and her cousin Naomi live in rural Wisconsin, part of an isolated religious community. The girls’ lives are ruled by the rhythms of nature – the harsh winters, the hunting seasons, the harvesting of crops – and by their families’ beliefs. Beneath the surface of this closed, frozen world, hidden dangers lurk.
The Ruth learns that Naomi harbours a terrible secret. She searched for solace in the mysteries of the natural world: broken fawns, migrating birds, and the strange fish deep beneath the ice. Can the girls’ prayers for deliverance be answered?
Sufficient Grace is a story of lost of innocence and the unfailing bond between two young women. It is at once devastating and beautiful, and ultimately transcendent.
‘Simply brilliant. Haunting, gritty and emotionally dark.’ Jessica Au
‘A novel of heart-rending beauty. Seldom have grace and nature, spirit and flesh, spoken to each other so wonderfully.’ Michael McGirr
‘As disturbing as they are, there are stories that demand to be written. This is such a story, delivered by a writer of remarkable talent. Long after reading Sufficient Grace you will not forget it, and will be left with wanting more from Amy Espeseth.’
– Tony Birch
Born in rural Wisconsin, Amy Espeseth lives in Melbourne, having immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. A writer, publisher and academic, she is the recipient of the 2007 Felix Meyer Scholarship in Literature, the 2009 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, the 2010 QUT Postgraduate Creative Writing Prize, and the 2012 CAL/Scribe Fiction Prize. Her fiction has appeared in various journals including Wet Ink, antithesis, and The Death Mook.
by Lisa Jacobson
The Sunlit Zone is a moving elegy of love and loss, admirable for its narrative sweep and the family dynamic that drives it. A risk-taking work of rare, imaginative power.
“The Sunlit Zone combines the narrative drive of the novel with the perfect pitch of true poetry. A darkly futuristic vision shot through with bolts of light. Brilliant, poignant, disconcerting.” Adrian Hyland
“This novel in verse, at once magical and irresistible, draws us in to a vivid future. In Lisa Jacobson’s telling, the Australian fascination with salt water and sea change is made over anew. Romance holds hands with science and takes to the ocean.”
About Lisa Jacobson
Lisa Jacobson’s The Sunlit Zone was short-listed for the 2009 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. An earlier poetry collection, Hair & Skin & Teeth, was shortlisted for the National Book Council Awards. She has studied literature at Melbourne and La Trobe Universities, and remains an Honorary Research Fellow at La Trobe. She shares a bush block in Melbourne with her partner and daughter.
Like A House On Fire
by Cate Kennedy
From prizewinning 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 and 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.
Cate Kennedy is the author of the highly acclaimed novel The World Beneath, which won the People’s Choice Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2010. She is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has been published widely. Her first collection, Dark Roots, was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. She is also the author of a travel memoir, Sing, and Don’t Cry, and the poetry collections Joyflight, Signs of Other Fires and The Taste of River Water, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2011. She lives on a secluded bend of the Broken River in north-east Victoria.
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?
Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire and revenge, of loyalty, heartache and human weakness, and of the unforeseen consequences of all-consuming love.
‘Lanagan is in a class of her own.’ The Weekend Australian
Margo Lanagan is an internationally acclaimed writer of novels and short stories. Her collections of short stories have garnered many awards, nominations and shortlistings. Black Juice was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, won two World Fantasy Awards and the Victorian Premier’s Award for Young Adult Fiction. Red Spikes won the CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, a Horn Book Fanfare title, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her novel Tender Morsels won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Margo lives in Sydney.
by Patti Miller
A superior memoir by an accomplished writer at the height of her powers
For 40,000 years the Central NSW area of Wellington was Aboriginal – Wiradjuri – land. Following the arrival of white men, it became a penal settlement, mission station, gold-mining town and farming centre with a history of white comfort and black marginalisation. In the late 20th century, it was also the subject of the first post-Mabo Native Title claim, bringing new hope – and new controversy – to the area and its people.
Wiradjuri land is also where author Patti Miller was born and, mid-life, it begins to exert a compelling emotional pull, demanding her return. Post-children, having lived a dream life in Paris, it is hard for her to understand, or ignore, and so she is drawn into the story at the heart of Australian identity – who are we in relation to our beloved but stolen country?
Wellington and the Wiradjuri people are the main characters – and in revealing their complex narratives, Patti uncovers her own. Are her connections to this place through her convict forefathers, or through another, secret history? She sets out on a journey of exploration and takes us with her. Black and white politics, the processes of colonisation, family mythologies, generational conflict and the power of place are evoked as Patti weaves a story that is very personal and, at the same time, a universal story of country and belonging.
The Mind of a Thief is about identity, history, place and belonging and, perhaps most of all, about how we create ourselves through our stories.
Patti Miller was raised on a farm in central western NSW and has worked teaching writing for over twenty years. Her many books include Writing Your Life (Allen & Unwin, 1994, 2001), The Last One Who Remembers (Allen & Unwin, 1997), Child (Allen & Unwin, 1998), Whatever the Gods Do (Random House, 2003) and The Memoir Book (Allen & Unwin, 2007). In 2012 she will teach at the innovative Faber Academy in Sydney.
by Stephanie Radok
Artist and writer Stephanie Radok possesses a unique international perspective. For over twenty years she has written about and witnessed the emergence of contemporary Aboriginal art and the responses of Australian art to global diasporas.
In An opening: Twelve love stories about art, Stephanie Radok takes us on a walk with her dog and finds that it is possible to re-imagine the suburb as the site of epiphanies and attachments.
‘Art wants to enter our lives, yet it is a rare art writer who lets it do that. Writing with full personal disclosure, Stephanie Radok lets us in on her secret. Art can inspire love, and a whole host of other unruly emotions. An Opening is a confession, a provocation, a celebration – a highly original, much-needed book in a field that too often prefers to be offputting and hermetic. A revelation, a gem.’ – Nicholas Jose
‘In An Opening Stephanie Radok engages sensuously and poetically with the art she has seen from her place in the suburbs of Adelaide and as a citizen of the world. Her contribution to Australian art is idiosyncratic and determinedly marginal. I once titled an essay on Australianness “The margins strike back”. Australian art needs more margins.’ – Daniel Thomas
‘Peppered with lovely anecdotes and a gentle wisdom, An Opening draws the reader into a wonderful discussion about art, culture, and identity. Radok’s style is so accessible that she makes thinking critically about art a less rarefied occupation it might otherwise seem.’ – Lucy Clark, Weekend Australian Review
‘A meditative and enriching read.’ – Sarah Braybrooke, Artshub
‘It has been a rare pleasure to review this book; the philosophy and spirituality Stephanie Radok expresses in relation to Aboriginal art are enlightening.’ – Paul Newbury, Bonzer
‘Stephanie’s engagement with art is sentimental, poignant, deeply reflective and a revelation for the uninitiated! – PS News
by Carrie Tiffany
On the outskirts of an Australian country town in the 1950s, a lonely farmer trains his binoculars on a family of kookaburras that roost in a tree near his house. Harry observes the kookaburras through a year of feast, famine, birth, death, war, romance and song. As Harry watches the birds, his next door neighbour has her own set of binoculars trained on him. Ardent, hard-working Betty has escaped to the country with her two fatherless children. Betty is pleased that her son, Michael, wants to spend time with the gentle farmer next door. But when Harry decides to teach Michael about the opposite sex, perilous boundaries are crossed.
Mateship with Birds is a novel about young lust and mature love. It is a hymn to the rhythm of country life – to vicious birds, virginal cows, adored dogs and ill-used sheep. On one small farm in a vast, ancient landscape, a collection of misfits question the nature of what a family can be.
Carrie Tiffany was born in West Yorkshire and grew up in Western Australia. She spent her early twenties working as a park ranger in the Red Centre and now lives in Melbourne, where she works as an agricultural journalist. Her first novel, Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living (2005) was shortlisted for numerous awards including the Orange Prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Guardian First Book Award and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, and won the Dobbie Award for Best First Book (2006) and the 2006 Western Australian Premier’s Award for Fiction. Mateship with Birds is her second novel.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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