Evie Wyld’s gothic tale of toxic masculinity, The Bass Rock, has been announced as the 2021 Stella Prize winner.
The $50,000 Prize was awarded last night (Thursday 22 April) during a special evening of storytelling and ideas, hosted by much-loved stage and screen icon Noni Hazlehurst AM.
The broadcast featured a response to the theme, If They Could Talk: On Voice and Voicelessness, from each of the six shortlisted authors (Rebecca Giggs, S.L. Lim, Laura Jean McKay, Louise Milligan, Mirandi Riwoe and Evie Wyld), as well as a keynote address from Gamilaroi writer and academic Amy Thunig.
The Bass Rock is a novel that weaves together the lives of three women across four centuries. It explores the legacy of male violence and the ways in which these traumas ripple and reverberate across time and place for three central female characters. Each woman’s choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there is the hope of survival and new life.
“The Bass Rock is a consuming and perplexing book, one that forces the reader to think and engage with the unique narrative structure, but in a way that feels effortless, so engaged are you by the story,” said Zoya Patel, Chair of the 2021 Stella Judging Panel.
“This is a novel that demonstrates the author’s versatility of style, with the separate narrative parts each having an individual voice. And yet, at no point does the book feel disjointed. Instead, it is as though Evie Wyld has chosen each and every word with precision, building a novel that is a true work of art.”
A writer at the top of her game, and no stranger to awards, Evie Wyld’s 2021 Stella Prize Award comes in addition to her 2014 Miles Franklin Award.
“To be in the company of writers as talented as the shortlist, and the longlist, has been a massive privilege and there is a huge amount to learn from all of their brilliant books,” said Evie Wyld. “I thank them, and I thank my publishers around the world, my literary agent, and the wonderful team at Stella.”
“This prize continues to say loudly that the work of women and non-binary writers matter. And for that I am extremely grateful.”
Evie Wyld grew up in Australia and the UK. She is part owner of Review, a small independent bookshop in London. Her first novel, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. In 2013 she was listed as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.
Evie’s second novel, All The Birds, Singing, won the 2014 Miles Franklin Award, the 2013 Encore Award, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and longlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her graphic novel with illustrator Joe Sumner, Everything Is Teeth, was published in 2015.
This year’s Stella Prize Judges include: author and editor Zoya Patel (Chair), playwright, author and Blak & Bright First Nations Literary Festival Director Jane Harrison, 3RRR radio producer, presenter and literary critic Elizabeth McCarthy, former books editor at The Saturday Paper Ian See and Deputy Programme Director at Edinburgh Book Festival Tamara Zimet – selected a longlist of twelve books from more than 160 original entries, which they narrowed down to a shortlist of six:
- Fathoms: the world in the whale by Rebecca Giggs (Scribe Publications)
- Revenge: Murder in Three Parts by S.L. Lim (Transit Lounge)
- The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay (Scribe Publications)
- Witness by Louise Milligan (Hachette Australia)
- Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe (University of Queensland Press)
- The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld (Penguin Random House)
Previous winners of the Stella Prize include: Jess Hill, 2020, (See What You Made Me Do); Vicki Laveau-Harvie, 2019 (The Erratics); Alexis Wright, 2018 (Tracker); Heather Rose, 2017 (The Museum of Modern Love); Charlotte Wood, 2016 (The Natural Way of Things); Emily Bitto, 2015 (The Strays); Clare Wright, 2014 (The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka); and Carrie Tiffany, 2013 (Mateship with Birds).
Over these past nine years, the Stella Prize has become a flagship feature of the Australian literary calendar, significantly boosting book sales and raising author profiles. For more information, visit: www.thestellaprize.com.au for details.
Image: Evie Wyld – courtesy of Penguin Random House