The Stella Prize is a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing, and an organisation that champions cultural change.
The prize is named after one of Australia’s iconic female authors, Stella Maria Sarah ‘Miles’ Franklin, and was awarded for the first time in 2013. Both nonfiction and fiction books by Australian women are eligible for entry.
An extraordinarily powerful and evocative literary novel set in Iran in the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Using the lyrical magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling, Azar draws the reader deep into the heart of a family caught in the maelstrom of post-revolutionary chaos and brutality that sweeps across an ancient land and its people.
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is really an embodiment of Iranian life in constant oscillation, struggle, and play between four opposing poles: life and death; politics and religion.
The sorrow residing in the depths of our joy is the product of a life between these four poles."If ever there was a book that needs to be read more than once, this is it" ~ ArtsHub"This novel is an exciting development in Australian publishing." ~ ANZ LitLovers LitBlog"Living in the 21st Century is not for the faint hearted, so it's no surprise that writers of literary fiction are looking clear-eyed at schisms of times past and the capacity of humans for brutality.
Stylistically similar to Eka Kurniawan's acclaimed Beauty is a Wound, this novel is set in the aftermath of Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979. Many scenes, most memorably Azar's handling of Beeta's fate, blend heavy darkness with allegorical flights of imagination, marking the author as an assured fabulist. She brings to colourful life an extended family replete with beauty, humour, and tragedy." ~ WritingWA
Helen Garner is one of Australia’s most important, and some would say, most admired living writers. That admiration is inspired by a sense that she is honest, authentic and fearless in the pursuit of her craft. But Garner also courts controversy, not least because she refuses to be constrained by the rules of literary form. She appears to write so much of herself into her non-fiction, and many of her own experiences inform her fiction.
But who is the ‘I’ in Helen Garner’s work?
Dr Bernadette Brennan has had access to previously unavailable papers in Garner’s archive, and she provides a lively and rigorous reading of the books, journals and correspondence of one of Australia’s most beloved women of letters.
A Writing Life is the first full-length study of Garner’s work, a literary portrait that maps Garner’s writing against the different stages of her life.
A hundred and seventy years ago many people would have chosen to die rather than undergo theordeal of surgery. Today, even major operations are routine. Anaesthesia has made them possible.
But how much do we really know about what happens when we go under? Can we hear what’s going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it, or don’t remember it afterwards?
How does the unconscious mind deal with the body’s experience of being cut open and ransacked?
And what happens to those rare patients who wake up under the knife?
Some time in the near future, university lecturer Caspar receives a gift from a former student called Liv: a memory stick containing a virtual narrative. Hooked up to a virtual reality bodysuit, he becomes immersed in the experience of their past sexual relationship. But this time it is her experience. What was for him an erotic interlude, resonant with the thrill of seduction, was very different for her - and when he has lived it, he will understand how.
A convicted paedophile recruited to Liv’s experiment in collective consciousness discovers a way to escape from his own desolation.
A synthetic boy, designed by Liv’s team to ‘love’ men who desire adolescents, begins to question the terms of his existence.
L, in transition to a state beyond gender, befriends Liv, in transition to a state beyond age.
Liv herself has finally transcended the corporeal but there is still the problem of love.
An Uncertain Grace is a novel in five parts by one of Australia’s most inventive and provocative writers. Moving, thoughtful, sometimes playful, it is about who we are our best and worst selves, our innermost selves and who we might become.
I never had words to ask anybody the questions, so I never had the answers.
Abandoned by her mother and only occasionally visited by her secretive father, Justine is raised by her pop, a man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop's chooks and The Choke, where the banks of the Murray River are so narrow it seems they might touch - a place of staggering natural beauty. But the river can't protect Justine from danger. Her father is a criminal, and the world he exposes her to can be lethal.
Justine is overlooked and underestimated, a shy and often silent observer of her chaotic world. She learns that she has to make sense of it on her own. She has to find ways to survive so much neglect. She must hang on to friendship when it comes, she must hide when she has to, and ultimately she must fight back.
The Choke is a brilliant, haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power and violence, in which grown-ups can't be trusted and comfort can only be found in nature. This compassionate and claustrophobic vision of a child in danger and a society in trouble celebrates above all the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
Sofie Laguna, winner of the 2015 Miles Franklin Literary Award for The Eye of the Sheep, once again shows she is a writer of rare empathy, originality and blazing talent.
'It is quite a feat to write characters with such nuance . . . in harnessing her storytelling facility to expose the flaws in the system with what is becoming trademark empathy, Laguna is an author proving the novel is a crucial document of the times.' Louise Swinn, The Australian
Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a mesmerising novel about the stories we tell and don't tell ourselves as individuals, as societies and as nations. It feels at once firmly classic and exhilaratingly contemporary.
Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood in Sri Lanka but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Driven by riveting stories and unforgettable characters, here is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.
Profoundly moving as well as wickedly funny, The Life to Come reveals how the shadows cast by both the past and the future can transform, distort and undo the present. This extraordinary novel by Miles Franklin-winning author Michelle de Kretser will strike to your soul.
This book is a glorious piece of virtuosity that is unlike anything I have ever read. It is provocative, tragicomic, and full of the most wonderfully descriptive writing you'll see this year. More valuably though, this book may actually change you.
The Life to Come is a series of mini-narratives entwined to produce a rich and colourful tapestry. Like in her 2012 MIles Franklin Award-winning novel Questions of Travel, there is no dominant narrative arc here - it is the details that make up the whole. Those expecting a grand plot may be confounded at first, but if you let yourself go with the novel's small episodes, a more valuable picture emerges. This novel delves into the stories we tell both others and ourselves. It explores how we make excuses for our bad behaviour and highlight our aspirations, always with our best times and deeds just before us, in the life to come. Ultimately, De Kretser highlights how we are the heroes of our own stories.
It is mostly set in Inner West Sydney, in a world of politically aware creatives who are forever bumping against each other. Each of her characters is a kind of vignette, carrying defined ideas of who they are and where they are going. Some have cast themselves as grand writers, charitable neighbours, or great liberal supporters of refugees and the marginalised. These ideals are soon revealed as the hypocritical constructs they are, with De Kretser deftly pinning each one to the board with glorious wit - her character observations are so acute that you are often left breathless.
Thankfully, De Kretser’s authorial compassion offsets the social shortcomings of her characters, as we realise they are full of human frailty, just like us. Moving and evocative, intellectual and pointed, and all written in brilliant prose, this book is a rich delight that is so uniquely of its time, and my pick of 2017 so far. Take your time reading it, and watch how it colours even the smallest social interactions in your life. You'll ask yourself questions. You may change how you act. Certainly you will want to re-read it.
'I so much admire Michelle de Kretser's formidable technique - her characters feel alive, and she can create a sweeping narrative which encompasses years, and yet still retain the sharp, almost hallucinatory detail.' Hilary Mantel
'Michelle de Kretser knows how to construct a gripping story. She writes quickly and lightly of wonderful and terrible things…A master storyteller.' A.S. Byatt
'...one of those rare writers whose work balances substance with style. Her writing is very witty, but it also goes deep, informed at every point by a benign and far-reaching intelligence.' Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald
'...a dazzlingly accomplished author who commands all the strokes. Her repertoire stretches from a hallucinatory sense of place to a mastery of suspense, sophisticated verbal artistry and a formidable skill in navigating those twisty paths where history and psychology entwine.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent
Michael Dransfield is being treated for a drug addiction; Paula Keogh is delusional and grief-stricken. They meet in a psychiatric unit of the Canberra Hospital and instantly fall in love.
Paula recovers a self that she thought was lost; Michael, a radical poet, is caught up in a rush of creative energy and writes poems that become The Second Month of Spring. Together, they plan for ‘a wedding, marriage, kids - the whole trip’. But outside the hospital walls, madness, grief and drugs challenge their luminous dream. Can their love survive?
The Green Bell is a lyrical and profoundly moving story about love and madness. It explores the ways that extreme experience can change us: expose our terrors and open us to ecstasy for the sake of a truer life, a reconciliation with who we are. Ultimately, the memoir reveals itself to be a hymn to life. A requiem for lost friends. A coming of age story that takes a lifetime.
Martin wore tight pants that were striped red, white and blue, like a Union Jack, and an embroidered Afghan vest. In front of his face he carried, like a lollipop, a smile on a stick. As he went, he bowed to passers-by. Even on King's Road, he stood out.
Martin Sharp's art was as singular as his style. He blurred the boundaries of high art and low with images of Dylan, Hendrix and naked flower children that defined an era. Along the way the irreverent Australian was charged with obscenity and collaborated with Eric Clapton as he drew rock stars and reprobates into his world.
In this richly told and beautifully written biography, Joyce Morgan captures the loneliness of a privileged childhood, the heady days of the underground magazine Oz as well as the exuberant creativity of Swinging London and beyond.
Sharp pursued his quixotic dream to realise van Gogh's Yellow House in Australia. He obsessively championed eccentric singer Tiny Tim and was haunted by Sydney's Luna Park. Charismatic and paradoxical, he became a recluse whose phone never stopped ringing.
There was no one like Martin Sharp. When he died, he was described as a stranger in a strange land who left behind a trail of stardust.
A collective memoir of one of Aboriginal Australia's most charismatic leaders and an epic portrait of a period in the life of a country, reminiscent in its scale and intimacy of the work of Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Svetlana Alexievich.
Miles Franklin Award-winning novelist Alexis Wright returns to non-fiction in her new book, Tracker Tilmouth, a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker, and entrepreneur who died in Darwin in 2015.
Taken from his family as a child and brought up in a mission on Croker Island, Tracker Tilmouth returned home to transform the world of Aboriginal politics. He worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles, including Director of the Central Land Council.
He was a visionary and a projector of ideas, renowned for his irreverent humour and his anecdotes. His memoir has been composed by Wright from interviews with Tilmouth himself, as well as with his family, friends, and colleagues, weaving his and their stories together into a book that is as much a tribute to the role played by storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life as it is to the legacy of a remarkable man.
Sparked by the description of a `Malay trollope' in W. Somerset Maugham's story, The Four Dutchmen, Mirandi Riwoe's novella, The Fish Girl tells of an Indonesian girl whose life is changed irrevocably when she moves from a small fishing village to work in the house of a Dutch merchant.
There she finds both hardship and tenderness as her traditional past and colonial present collide.
Told with an exquisitely restrained voice and coloured with lush description, this moving book will stay with you long after the last page.
This Water is a collection of five tales, three of them novella length, each a fragmentary love story with a nameless woman at the centre, and a mythic dimension (Greek or Celtic, folklore or fable) rooted in the power of nature. Water and stone, ice and fire, light and darkness play an important role in all the stories, as do other motifs, closely related to women’s experience, blood, birth, possession and release, marriage and singularity.
One tale, set on the south coast of Victoria, is animated by the legend of the Great Silkie, following Sylvia Plath and Joan Baez; another finds its rebellious princess in Lake Annaghmakerrig in Ireland; a third has Clytemnestra as its central figure, mourning the daughter sacrificed by her husband Agamemnon so that he can go to war with Troy. The stories contain and reflect and shadow one other: in each the women speak, act, think for themselves, in opposing or escaping from situations ordained by authority.
Beverley Farmer is the author of three collections of short stories, including Milk, which won the NSW Premier’s Award for Fiction,the writer’s notebook A Body of Water, and two novels The Seal Woman and The House in the Light, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Her most recent book, The Bone House, a collection of three long essays on the life of the body and the life of the mind, was published by Giramondo in 2005.
‘Farmer uses language arrestingly, and is arrested by it, and imparts this throughout to her reader.’ Sara Dowse
‘An extraordinarily gifted and original talent’ The Age
‘Farmer’s prose, plangently beautiful and vivid with seashore and season, like poetry, invites dipping into and savouring again and again.’ Katharine England
‘As she explores the frailty of emotional experience, Farmer places her characters in a luminous domain of elemental sensual experience…’ Cassandra Pybus
What have we learned from our past? A daring debut novel from the winner of the 2016 black&write! writing fellowship.
'Jacky was running. There was no thought in his head, only an intense drive to run. There was no sense he was getting anywhere, no plan, no destination, no future. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from. Jacky was running.'
The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to have a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, reeducation is enforced. This rich land will provide for all.
This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history. This Terra Nullius is something new, but all too familiar.
This is an incredible debut from a striking new Australian Aboriginal voice.
'the truth that lies at the heart of this novel is impossible to ignore' - Books+Publishing