The 2018 Stella Prize Winner

by |April 12, 2018

Tracker by Alexis Wright is the 2018 Stella Prize Winner

Tracker by Alexis Wright has just been announced as the winner of the 2018 Stella Prize. Tracker is the ground-breaking collective memoir of an extraordinary Australian, and has become the sixth recipient of the Stella Prize.

Fiona Stager, Chair of the 2018 Stella judging panel says “This extraordinary, majestic book has been composed by Wright from interviews with family, friends, foes and Tilmouth himself. It is one man’s story told by many voices, almost operatic in scale. With a tight narrative structure, compelling real-life characters, the book sings with insight and Tracker’s characteristic humour. Wright has crafted an epic that is a truly rewarding read”.

On the win, Wright says:

“I am totally amazed and shocked, but I deeply acknowledge the great honour that has been bestowed by the Stella Prize on my book Tracker.

I want to express my gratitude to my friend Tracker Tilmouth, the great Eastern Arrernte man of Central Australia, and visionary leader in the Aboriginal world. I thought very deeply about how
to develop this book about him by using our own storytelling principle of consensus, to give everyone the opportunity to tell their part in the story. I was not even sure if it would work as the
manuscript of stories grew, but I pushed on for the six years it took to create Tracker.

I worked on this book because I felt that Australia needed to hear what Tracker had to say. It is important. It involves the future of Aboriginal people and our culture.

All Australian writers and their readers should be grateful that the Stella Prize has created enormous opportunities for women writers. I thank the judges for ensuring that Tracker’s story will be heard and appreciated by many more people.”

Tracker was selected as the winner from a shortlist of six and a longlist of twelve books. As the winner, Wright will receive $50,000, sponsored by the National Australia Bank (NAB). Read on for all the books that were short and longlisted.

Now in its sixth year, The Stella Prize seeks to recognise and celebrate Australian women writers’ contribution to literature, bring more readers to books by women and thus increase their sales, equip young readers with the skills to question gender disparities and challenge stereotypes, and help girls find their voice. Previous winners include Carrie Tiffany, Clare Wright, Emily Bitto, Charlotte Wood, and Heather Rose.

Congratulations Alexis Wright from all of us here at Booktopia!


The 2018 Stella Prize Winner


Tracker by Alexis WrightTracker
by Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright returns to non-fiction in her new book, a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker and entrepreneur Tracker Tilmouth, who died in Darwin in 2015 at the age of 62.

Taken from his family as a child and brought up in a mission on Croker Island, Tracker Tilmouth 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 of the Northern Territory.

Tracker was a visionary, a strategist and a projector of ideas, renowned for his irreverent humour and his determination to tell things the way he saw them. Having known him for many years, Alexis Wright interviewed Tracker, along with family, friends, colleagues, and the politicians he influenced, weaving his and their stories together in a manner reminiscent of the work… Learn more.


The 2018 Stella Prize Shortlist


The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh AzarThe 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. Learn more.


Terra Nullius by Claire G. ColemanTerra Nullius
by Claire G. Coleman

In the near future Australia is about to experience colonisation once more. What have we learned from our past? A daring debut novel from the winner of the 2016 black&write! writing fellowship.

‘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… Learn more.


The Life to Come by Michelle de KretserThe Life to Come
by Michelle de Kretser

Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don’t tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.

Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.

Profoundly moving as well as bitingly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present. This extraordinary novel by Miles Franklin-winning author… Learn more.


An Uncertain Grace by Krissy KneenAn Uncertain Grace
by Krissy Kneen

Some time in the near future, university lecturer Caspar receives a gift from a former student called Liv: a memory stick containing a virtual narrative. Hooked up to a virtual reality bodysuit, he becomes immersed in the experience of their past sexual relationship. But this time it is her experience. What was for him an erotic interlude, resonant with the thrill of seduction, was very different for her – and when he has lived it, he will understand how.

Later…

A convicted paedophile recruited to Liv’s experiment in collective consciousness discovers a way to escape from his own desolation.

A synthetic boy, designed by Liv’s team to ‘love’ men who desire adolescents, begins to question…  Learn more.


The Fish Girl by Mirandi RiwoeThe Fish Girl
by Mirandi Riwoe

Sparked by the description of a ‘Malay trollope’ in W. Somerset Maugham’s story, The Four Dutchmen, Mirandi Riwoe’s 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. Learn more.


The 2018 Stella Prize Longlist


A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work by Bernadette BrennanA Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work
by Bernadette Brennan

The first full-length study of Helen Garner’s work, and a lively literary portrait that maps Garner’s writing against the different stages of her life.

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… Learn more.


Anaesthhsia by Kate Cole-AdamsAnaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Conciousness
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… Learn more.


This Water: Five Tales by Beverley FarmerThis Water: Five Tales
by Beverley Farmer

This is likely to be the last work by Beverley Farmer, one of Australia’s great prose stylists, and a pioneer of women’s writing, in her exploration of feminine concerns, and her use of different literary forms – novel, short story, poetry, essay, journal, myth and fairy tale.

This Water is a collection of five tales, three of them novella length, each a fragmentary love story with a nameless woman at the centre, and a mythic dimension (Greek or Celtic, folklore or fable) rooted in the power of nature. Water and stone, ice and fire, light and darkness play an important role in all the stories, as do other motifs, closely related to women’s experience, blood, birth, possession and release, marriage and singularity… Learn more.


The Green Bell by Paula KeoghThe 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… Learn more.


Martin Sharp: His Life and Times by Joyce MorganMartin Sharp: His Life and Times
by Joyce Morgan

The life of the charismatic, unconventional, unique and surprising Martin Sharp – pop artist and joint founder of the underground magazine Oz.

‘Martin wore tight pants that were striped red, white and blue, like a Union Jack, and an embroidered Afghan vest. In front of his face he carried, like a lollipop, a smile on a stick. As he went, he bowed to passers-by. Even on King’s Road, he stood out.’

Martin Sharp’s art was as singular as his style. He blurred the boundaries of high art and low with images of Dylan, Hendrix and naked flower children that defined an era. Along the way the irreverent Australian was charged with obscenity and collaborated with Eric Clapton as he drew rock stars and reprobates into his world… Learn more.


The Choke by Sofie LagunaThe Choke
by Sofie Laguna

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… Learn more.

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About the Contributor

Tanaya has been a lover of books for as long as she can remember. Now, her book collection is a little out of control, mostly consisting of YA fiction and pretty hardcovers. When she’s not reading, she spends a lot of her time taking photos of books for her bookstagram account, @prettypagesblog. She also has a love of Disneyland, bullet journaling and cats.

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