Taking inspiration from performance artist Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present, Tasmanian Author Heather Rose has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Stella Prize for her novel, The Museum of Modern Love.
In announcing the $50,000 prize, Chair of the 2017 judging panel, Brenda Walker said: “It is rare to encounter a novel with such powerful characterisation, such a deep understanding of the consequences of personal and national history, such affection for a city and the people who are drawn to it, and such dazzling and subtle explorations of the importance of art in everyday life.“
“It is an unusual and remarkable achievement, a meditation on the social, spiritual and artistic importance of seeing and being seen, and listening for voices from the present and past that may or may not be easy to hear.”
Heather Rose’s work spans adult literary fiction, children’s literature, fantasy/sci-fi and crime. Her previous novels include White Heart (1999), The Butterfly Man (2005) and The River Wife (2009). She is co-author (with Danielle Wood) of the acclaimed Tuesday McGillycuddy series for children (written under the pen-name Angelica Banks and published internationally).
Rose won the Davitt Award in 2006, and her work has been shortlisted for the Nita B. Kibble Award and the Aurealis Awards, and longlisted for the IMPAC Award. She was a recipient of Varuna’s Eleanor Dark Fellowship and was the inaugural Writer in Residence at the Museum of Old and New Art (MoNA) in Hobart from 2012 to 2013 where she did much of the research for The Museum of Modern Love. Currently studying Fine Arts at UTAS, this is her seventh book.
“To win the Stella Prize is amazing! I am surprised, delighted and deeply appreciative of the increased awareness this will bring to my novel,” says Rose. “It’s something of a miracle when, after many years of work, a book with its own special life beyond the clandestine world of the author’s mind wins a major literary prize.”
“The Museum of Modern Love was eleven years in the writing. It was fitted in around my work in a family business and all the regular chaos and joy of domestic life with children. This recognition is a defining career moment, and it provides the enormous gift of breathing space to work on my next novel.”
The Stella Prize is open to works of both fiction and nonfiction by Australian women. From more than 180 entries, this year’s judging panel – author and academic Brenda Walker (chair); author and literary critic Delia Falconer; bookseller Diana Johnston; editor and chair of First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Sandra Phillips; and author, journalist and screenwriter Benjamin Law – selected a longlist of twelve books, which they then narrowed down to a shortlist of six.
Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain (Scribe Publications); The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hachette); Poum and Alexandre by Catherine de Saint Phalle (Transit Lounge); An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire (Pan Macmillan); The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose (Allen & Unwin); and Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor (Text Publishing).
Each of the shortlisted authors receives $3000 courtesy of the Ivy H Thomas and Arthur A Thomas Trust, and a three-week writing retreat supported by the Trawalla Foundation.
Named after one of Australia’s iconic female authors, Stella Maria ‘Miles’ Franklin, the prize has become an influential and much-loved feature of the Australian literary calendar. Celebrating Australian women’s contribution to literature, previous winners include: Carrie Tiffany – Mateship with Birds (2013), Clare Wright – Forgotten Rebels of Eureka (2014), Emily Bitto – The Strays (2015) and Charlotte Wood – The Natural Way of Things (2016).
For more information, visit: www.thestellaprize.com.au for details.
Image: Heather Rose (supplied)