Following the success of the inaugural Stella Prize in 2013, the award has returned for a second year to celebrate and recognise the extraordinary talent of Australian female writers. The Stella Prize judges have faced a difficult task in creating a longlist from more than 160 entries, and the recently announced longlist of 12 reflects a diversity of unique writing across both fiction and non-fiction works.
Chair of the Stella Prize judging panel, Kerryn Goldsworthy, said the six works of fiction and six non-fiction demonstrated the depth of talent in this year’s entries and met the formal criteria for the Stella Prize: ‘excellent, engaging and original’.
“There are five novels, a collection of short stories, plus biography, history, memoir, and several books that defy easy classification,” said Goldsworthy.
“Most of the fiction, in its different ways, ventures beyond the restrictions of what Patrick White called ‘dun-coloured realism’ into the realms of the quirky, the surreal, the dystopian or the Gothic.
“Most of the nonfiction titles focus on a particular person but range far beyond that in their implications and themes: in telling one story, they speak for many.”
Several of the longlist authors are due to make an appearance at the AusNZ festival, including debut authors Hannah Kent and Fiona McFarlane.
Hannah Kent’s novel, Burial Rites, has been creating a buzz both at home and abroad, with its story of the last woman in Iceland to be hanged in the 1800s.
The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane, explores ageing, love, dependence, fear and power, set against a backdrop of coastal Australia. It was recently launched in London by the Aus & NZ Festival in a co-hosted event with the Australian Women’s Club.
This year’s judging panel is made up of critic and writer Kerryn Goldsworthy (chair), journalist and broadcaster Annabel Crabb, author and academic Brenda Walker, bookseller Fiona Stager, and writer and lecturer Tony Birch.
The shortlist will be announced on Thursday 20 March. The winner of the 2014 Stella Prize, worth AUD$50,000, will be awarded in Sydney on Tuesday 29 April.
The Stella Prize longlist
- Letter to George Clooney by Debra Adelaide (Picador)
- Moving Among Strangers by Gabrielle Carey (UQP)
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador)
- Night Games by Anna Krien (Black Inc)
- Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko (UQP)
- The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane (Penguin)
- Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir by Kristina Olsson (UQP)
- The Misogyny Factor by Anne Summers (NewSouth)
- Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John by Helen Trinca (Text Publishing)
- The Swan Book by Alexis Wright (Giramondo)
- The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright (Text Publishing)
- All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld (Random House)
Have you read any of the Stella Prize longlist? Tell us what you thought!