Now in its sixth year, the influential and a much-loved feature of the Australian literary calendar, the Stella Prize has announced the six extraordinary books by Australian women on the 2018 shortlist.
In a year when women’s voice are demanding to be heard, the powerful themes of family, identity and politics connect the six diverse, engaging and original books on the 2018 shortlist. The shortlist also highlights works that revel in unexpected formats, genres and structures – novellas, collective memoir, multilayered narratives, science fiction and erotica.
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Wild Dingo Press)
Written shortly after Azar’s release from Christmas Island, this moving magic-realist novel is narrated by a thirteen-year-old girl as she follows the fortunes of her family in the violent aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman (Hachette Australia)
This arresting and original novel addresses the legacy of Australia’s violent history by imagining a recolonised Australia in the near future.
The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser (Allen & Unwin)
Here individual stories are connected by one key character, the writer, to explore love, betrayal and loneliness. This is ultimately a novel that asks deep questions about responsibility: to ourselves, to each other, and to our national identity.
An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen (Text Publishing)
This smart, frequently funny novel combines eroticism, science fiction and serious literary talent: With shifting points of view Kneen explores mismatched desires, mortality and the looming prospect of environmental disaster.
The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe (Seizure)
Mirandi Riwoe is a powerful emerging voice in Australian fiction. Her novella plays with a classic short story by Somerset Maugham as well as Javanese mythology to tell the tale of Mina, a shy Indonesian village girl, who finds herself at the mercy of men who do not necessarily have her best interests at heart.
Tracker by Alexis Wright (Giramondo)
This is a remarkable biography of Tracker Tilmouth, charismatic Aboriginal leader, thinker, entrepreneur, visionary and provocateur. Wright follows an Aboriginal tradition of collective storytelling that she describes as a ‘practice for crossing landscapes and boundaries, giving many voices a part in the story.’
This year’s Stella Prize judges: co-owner of the award-winning bookshop Avid Reader, Fiona Stager (chair); author Julie Koh; editor and award-winning writer and poet Ellen van Neerven; writer and critic James Ley, and writer, editor and publisher Louise Swinn – have selected this shortlist of six from a long list of twelve books and more than one hundred and seventy original entries.
2018 marks the Stella Prize’s sixth year celebrating Australian women’s contribution to literature. It was awarded for the first time in 2013 to Carrie Tiffany for Mateship with Birds. In 2014, the winner was Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, in 2015 the winner was Emily Bitto for The Strays, and in 2016 the winner was Charlotte for The Natural Way of Things. In 2017 Heather Rose was awarded the prize, worth $50,000 and open to fiction and nonfiction books, for The Museum of Modern Love.
The 2018 Stella Prize will be awarded in Sydney on the evening of Thursday 12 April. For more information, visit: www.thestellaprize.com.au for details.
Image: The 2018 Stella Prize Shortlist (supplied)