The annual Stella Prize celebrating female writers has announced its shortlist from a longlist of 12 books and more than 170 original entries. The winner of the award, who will receive $50,000, will be announced at a ceremony in Sydney on April 12.
Each shortlisted author receives $3000 in prize money, as well as a three-week writing retreat on the Victorian coast, supported by the Trawalla Foundation.
The judges are the bookseller Fiona Stager (chair); author Julie Koh; editor, writer and poet Ellen van Neerven; writer and critic James Ley, and writer, editor and publisher Louise Swinn.
This is the sixth year of the prize.
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’.
Chair of judges Fiona Stager said the shortlisted titles”showcase the incredible breadth of talent in the writing by women in Australia today….The personal interweaves seamlessly with the political as these authors investigate the past, examine the present and re-imagine our future. Ideas about family, identity in all its forms, and politics at both its most profound and intimate levels are themes that connect these six diverse, engaging and original books”.