The Shortlist for the 2016 Stella Prize has been announced. Six female authors will now compete for the $50,000 literary prize which recognises and celebrates Australian women writers.
From more than 170 entries, this year’s Stella Prize judges selected a longlist of twelve books that they have now narrowed down to a shortlist of six.
“The books on the 2016 Stella Prize shortlist are all exceptionally strong: finely composed and compassionate literary investigations of the fate of individuals interacting with the natural world and with social authority; with protection and self-protection in complicated environments; with the hard-won joy of living,” said Brenda Walker, Chair of the 2016 Stella Prize judging panel.
2016 Stella Prize Shortlist
Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight (Random House)
The ten stories in this collection take the reader through the six bedrooms of teenagers. A cast of feckless, brilliant and believable characters experience first sexual encounters, illness, death and grief. All the stories in Six Bedrooms connect the reader with the world of adolescence, in a strong and urgent representation of the vulnerabilities and the loneliness of the young.
Hope Farm by Peggy Frew (Scribe)
Hope Farm concerns thirteen-year-old Silver, who has spent her life being moved from ashram to ashram and commune to commune by her mother Ishtar. In 1985 the latest move – at the urging of her mother’s new lover – is to Hope Farm, a run-down, weed-strewn property in rural Victoria, where the commune’s adults stubbornly cling to the faded promise of their ideals.
A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories by Elizabeth Harrower (Text Publishing)
Elizabeth Harrower’s short fiction, gathered for the first time in A Few Days in the Country, is as vibrant today as when it was first published some decades ago. She convincingly depicts a dark and often unacknowledged side of human behaviour: from a glamorous couple who might be termed psychopathic in contemporary times, to petty acts of vindictiveness perpetuated by characters with domestic authority, each story is a glimpse into the way power can work in individual lives. There are also tender tales about the anxieties of friendship and burgeoning adulthood.
The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Set on the north coast of NSW in the aftermath of a young girl’s death from cancer, The World Without Us traces the varying effects of grief on the remaining members of her family while emphasising the wider world in which those lives are embedded: a world in which ecological breakdown operates both as metaphor and disturbing fact. Mireille Juchau uses anxieties about the fragility of the natural systems that sustain our lives as a referent for her story of love and loss.
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (Allen & Unwin)
In The Natural Way of Things ten women are imprisoned on an isolated property, forced into hard labour in scorching heat while wearing rough uniforms and vision-impairing bonnets. They are given no reason for their incarceration, but they gradually determine that each has been involved in a public sex scandal, making them dangerous, embarrassing or inconvenient to men who have the power to punish them. As their food runs out and it becomes evident that their guards have also been abandoned by whatever power placed them there, the women are forced to look to each other for survival.
Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright (Giramondo)
Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of essays on anorexia, a disorder as disturbing as it is mysterious, even to its own sufferers. Documenting Fiona Wright’s experience from the beginning of her affliction, when she was a student, to her hospitalisation with a life-threateningly extreme version of the illness, the essays display a candour and an intelligence that describe the course of her illness with great precision and illuminate the sufferer’s motives and actions over time.
The 2016 Stella Prize will be awarded in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday 19 April. For more information visit the website: thestellaprize.com.au
You can buy these books at all good bookshops and online at the following retailers: