The 2013 Stella Prize Longlist announced

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.


Floundering

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.

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy Floundering from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Mazin Grace

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.

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy Mazin Grace from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Burial

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.

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy The Burial from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The People Smuggler

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

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy The People Smuggler from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


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.

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.

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy Questions of Travel from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Sufficient Grace

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

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy Sufficient Grace from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Sunlit Zone

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.” 
Chris Wallace-Crabbe
About Lisa Jacobson

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy The Sunlit Zone from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


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.

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy Like A House On Fire from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Sea Hearts

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.’
‘Could it?’

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

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy Sea Hearts from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


The Mind of a Thief

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.

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy The Mind of a Thief from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


An Opening: Twelve Love Stories about Art

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.

Reviews

‘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

Click here to buy An Opening from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Mateship with Bird

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.

About the Author

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.

Click here to buy Mateship with Birds from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

Robin de Crespigny, author of The People Smuggler, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Robin de Crespigny

author of The People Smuggler:
The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi, the ‘Oskar Schindler of Asia’

Ten Terrifying Questions

——————————

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

As a child I rode horses and had a pet kangaroo on a farm in the Western district of Victoria. My three sisters and I had unrestricted freedom to run wild, much to the envy of my urban cousins who taught us about city life when we were in our teens. My father, whose father was a journalist, only ever wanted to be on the land. All my life he told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. We were a very close family until one by one, as we reached secondary level and there were no local schools, we were sent to boarding school. It was built on a single city block with high stone walls to keep us in. I missed my animals and fretted for my freedom, but I did become a good athlete and on occasions a good actor, otherwise I learnt very little.

2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?

At 12 I wanted to be a jockey and race horses on tracks around the globe but I grew too tall, and I was a girl, so I had to let go my dream. At 18 I wanted to be a journalist but at my school it wasn’t encouraged as a career for women, so I didn’t know what to do. I wrote to the papers and they said I needed a tertiary degree, but once I got to university I was side-tracked rebelling against the restraints of my schooling. At 30, in New York, I discovered filmmaking and a new world opened to me.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at 18 that you do not have now?

That I was invincible.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

The Vietnam War. As students we marched in moratoriums of over 100,000 people against the war and the conscription of our male peers to fight in it. Ordinary people came out on the streets dividing families, friends and our nation. It was a defining time, which could be said to have politicised a generation.

When I was around six or seven I nearly died from Encephalitis, which I was believed to have caught from the Ibis in a swamp I liked to play in. My strongest images are of overhearing it said I might have polio because I was paralysed for a period, and later being propped up on pillows at my bedroom window to watch the spring set in. My mother picked me stems of blue grape hyacinths from which I plucked the tiny blooms and threaded them into a necklace. I remember feeling tremendous joy and it was then I knew I would live.

Although not to everyone’s taste, reading Tom Robbin’s Even Cowgirls Get the Blues about Sissy, an ugly duckling with super-sized thumbs who grew up to be a hitch-hiker, model and cowgirl, set me off travelling Europe. As one reviewer said ‘you won’t just put it down and go pet your cat. You’ll want to go make love to the horizon. It’s beautiful stuff.’

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

Ali Al Jenabi’s story was originally brought to me to write as a film script but the epic breadth of his journey, both physically and emotionally, is so great, with boats at sea and at least six countries, that I somewhat gratefully took advice to tell this odyssey in book form first.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It is the true story of Ali Al Jenabi, an Iraqi refugee who became a people smuggler to save his family, and ultimately came to be seen, not as the heinous criminal the Australian government believed him to be, but as the ‘Oskar Schindler’ of Asia.

(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb – 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)

Click here to buy The People Smuggler from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

To make Australians more compassionate and understanding towards people who are less fortunate than ourselves.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

There are so many people in the world to admire but some would be: Aung San Suu Kyi for her utter commitment to what she believes is right for her people, despite no promise of success. Paul Keating for being able to mix a true love and appreciation of the arts with politics, a quality seldom revealed. Scorsese for his passionate dedication to film. Meryl Streep for her unqualified talent to literally inhabit a character, yet being able to withstand the rigours of fame. Steven Soderbergh for maintaining his integrity while making great films. And my sister Paddy who inspired me with the grace and honesty with which she lived her life and faced a most untimely death.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To change the direction of the debate about refugees by touching people who had previously never asked themselves what they would do if they were in the same situation. To get them to see it is not all black and white, and to gain respect and compassion for asylum seekers as fellow human beings.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Take risks and live life to the fullest until you have something to say. Meanwhile pour your passion into diaries, poetry, short-stories and bar coasters until you find a voice that feels true, then write film scripts, books and TV; they inform each other. Otherwise it is just about endurance. Being able to hole up, buckle down, and bounce back.

Robin, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy The People Smuggler from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 983 other followers

%d bloggers like this: