Showing all posts tagged: Stella Prize

Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright, wins the 2024 Stella Prize

3 May 2024

Queensland/Waanyi author Alexis Wright, has been named winner of the 2024 Stella Prize for Australian literature, for works by women and non-binary writers, with Praiseworthy, a novel set in the north of Australia.

In a small town dominated by a haze cloud, which heralds both an ecological catastrophe and a gathering of the ancestors, a crazed visionary seeks out donkeys as the solution to the global climate crisis and the economic dependency of the Aboriginal people. His wife seeks solace from his madness in following the dance of butterflies and scouring the internet to find out how she can seek repatriation for her Aboriginal/Chinese family to China. One of their sons, called Aboriginal Sovereignty, is determined to commit suicide. The other, Tommyhawk, wishes his brother dead so that he can pursue his dream of becoming white and powerful.

Beejay Silcox, chair of the 2024 Stella judges panel, described Wright’s novel, which was published in 2023, as a great Australian novel, and mighty in every regard:

Praiseworthy is mighty in every conceivable way: mighty of scope, mighty of fury, mighty of craft, mighty of humour, mighty of language, mighty of heart.

Praiseworthy is not only a great Australian novel — perhaps the great Australian novel — it is also a great Waanyi novel. And it is written in the wild hope that, one day, all Australian readers might understand just what that means. I do not understand. Not yet. But I can feel history calling to me in these pages. Calling to all of us. Imagine if we listened.

Praiseworthy is an epic novel. Figuratively. And literally. With a page count of over seven-hundred, I’ve so far not been game enough to pick it up. I’m struggling to read novels with less than half as many pages. This is also Wright’s second Stella win, her 2017 novel Tracker, took out the 2018 prize.


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The 2024 Stella Prize for Australian literature shortlist

12 April 2024

And talking of Australian fiction, the shortlist for the 2024 Stella Prize, the Australian literary award that recognises the work of Australian women and non-binary writers, was unveiled last week. The following six titles were selected:

I’m a big fan of literary prize lists, be they long or short, given they’re always a great source of reading ideas, since I only sometimes have my finger on the pulse of literary happenings. In the same way Triple J’s Hottest 100 is great for new music discovery, for those unable to listen to music 24/7.

Good to see Melbourne based author Katherine Brabon listed with her latest novel. I really enjoyed her 2021 novel, The Shut-ins. I highly recommend adding it your TBR list, if you’ve not yet read it.

And for reference, here is the Stella’s longlist, which was published in early March. The 2024 winner of the Stella Prize will be named on Thursday 2 May 2024.


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Entries for 2024 Stella Prize for Australian literature now open

26 August 2023

It seems like only last week the winner of the 2023 Stella Prize — Sarah Holland-Batt with her poetry collection The Jaquarwas announced, when in fact that happened four months ago.

The year is marching on.

Entries are now open for the 2024 prize, but only for about the next month and a half. There are a few cut-off dates for submissions, but Friday 13 October 2023 is the final day an entry can be made.


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The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt wins 2023 Stella Prize

27 April 2023

The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt, book cover

It’s been a good couple of years for poetry at the Stella Prize. And for the University of Queensland Press (UQP). This evening Queensland born Australian author Sarah Holland-Batt was named winner of the 2023 award, with her collection of poetry, The Jaguar, published by UQP, in May 2022. Holland-Batt follows Evelyn Araluen, winner of the 2022 Stella with her collection of poetry, Dropbear, also published by UQP.

The Jaguar is Holland-Batt’s third book, and was written in the wake of her father being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and his later death in 2020:

With electrifying boldness, Sarah Holland-Batt confronts what it means to be mortal in an astonishing and deeply humane portrait of a father’s Parkinson’s Disease, and a daughter forged by grief. Opening and closing with startling elegies set in the charged moments before and after a death, and fearlessly probing the body’s animal endurance, appetites and metamorphoses, The Jaguar is marked by Holland-Batt’s lyric intensity and linguistic mastery, along with a stark new clarity of voice.

Alice Pung, chair of this year’s judging panel, describes Holland-Batt’s prose as “unexpected and unforgettable“:

In The Jaguar, Sarah Holland-Batt writes about death as tenderly as we’ve ever read about birth. She focuses on the pedestrian details of hospitals and aged care facilities, enabling us to see these institutions as distinct universes teeming with life and love. Her imagery is unexpected and unforgettable, and often blended with humour. This is a book that cuts through to the core of what it means to descend into frailty, old age, and death. It unflinchingly observes the complex emotions of caring for loved ones, contending with our own mortality and above all – continuing to live.

The Stella Prize is not the only accolade The Jaguar has garnered. It was named The Australian’s, 2022 Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the 2023 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize, which is part of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Update: see Holland-Batt’s Stella Prize acceptance speech here.


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Bad Art Mother by Edwina Preston rejected by 25 publishers

30 March 2023

Bad Art Mother by Edwina Preston, book cover

Melbourne based Australian musician and author Edwina Preston took her manuscript for Bad Art Mother, which was today shortlisted for the 2023 Stella Prize, to twenty-six book publishers before finding one who accepted it:

Thankfully her agent, Jenny Darling, was sending out the book. “I was a bit shielded in that sense, I don’t know if I would have sent it out 25 times off my own bat. But having that support behind me, I can’t tell you how important that was. It felt very lonely, and I felt very much like I was a bit deluded about myself and my work, but she believed in it.”

It’s kind of surprising, though maybe it isn’t, but Preston already had two books to her name, The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer, a novel published in 2012, and Not Just a Suburban Boy, a biography of late Australian artist Howard Arkley, published by Duffy & Snellgrove, in 2002.

Unpublished authors are not the only ones who struggle to get their work into print.


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The 2023 Stella Prize shortlist

30 March 2023

The 2023 Stella Prize shortlist was unveiled this morning on RN Breakfast, an ABC radio station. The following six titles have been selected:

The winner will be announced on Thursday 27 April 2023.


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Australian literary prizes convert to sales, some sales

8 March 2023

In the ten years since its establishment, winners of the Stella Prize have seen pleasing increases in sales of their books, says Jaclyn Booton, executive director of the Australian literary award:

She says the impact of the Stella, on writers and readers, grows exponentially over time. The criteria for the prize are to recognise original, excellent, and engaging books; it is open to works of fiction, nonfiction and, as of last year, poetry. Worth $60,000 to the winner, short-listed authors receive $4000 each. Analysis of data in the week after the prize winner is announced shows a 200 per cent increase in sales.

Literary prizes have always been a great form of book promotion, maybe the best in my view, and I’ve always thought every nominee, from the time they’re included on a prize longlist, is a winner. This is why it would be great if there were more excitement, more profile around local literary prizes, as is the case with the Booker Prize in the United Kingdom.

I read last week that Grimmish, originally a novel self-published by Michael Winkler, which was shortlisted in the 2022 Miles Franklin award, sold fifteen hundred books, as a result of being listed. While any sales of a book are good news, fifteen hundred units seems to be on the lower side. Is Australia really a nation averse to books?


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The 2023 Stella Prize longlist

2 March 2023

The 2023 Stella Prize longlist was announced this evening by Melbourne based Australian author Alice Pung. The twelve books are:

Created ten years to recognise the work of Australian women writers, the Stella Prize is one of Australia’s most prestigious literary awards. The shortlist of six titles will be announced on Thursday 30 March 2023.


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Julia Gillard talks to Stella winners Evelyn Araluen and Evie Wyld

13 May 2022

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks to the 2022 Stella Prize winner Evelyn Araluen, in her podcast A Podcast of One’s Own. Also joining the discussion is Evie Wyld, winner of the 2021 Stella, and Jaclyn Booton, executive director of the Stella Prize.

To celebrate the 2022 prize, Julia sits down with Evelyn Araluen, this year’s prize winner, to discuss her award-winning debut book, Drop Bear, which weaves together past and present, her personal history and the story of indigenous Australia through powerful lyrical verse. Evelyn shares her writing experience, her journey into poetry and what it’s been like being recognised by the prize.

Julia also speaks with Jaclyn Booton, the Executive Director of the Stella Prize, about how it was established and why it is so important to spotlight Australian women’s writing. Evie Wyld also joins this bumper episode to share her experience as the 2021 prize winner and talk about her critically acclaimed novel, The Bass Rock.


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Evelyn Araluen in conversation with Jeanine Leane

10 May 2022

Some late news to hand… Australian poet Evelyn Araluen, winner of the 2022 Stella Prize, will speak with Wiradjuri writer Jeanine Leane, at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, this Thursday evening, 12 May 2022.


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