The 2022 Stella Prize shortlist

3 April 2022

The shortlist for the 2022 Stella Prize was announced on Thursday 31 March 2022. The six titles, the work of Australian women and non-binary writers, along with an excerpt of the judges’ comments for each book are as follows:

Bodies of Light, by Jennifer Down.

This is an ambitious novel, spanning decades and locales, that sees Down demonstrate her imaginative range and take risks following the success of her previous two books. The result is a daring and compelling work, suffused with pathos and an impressive degree of empathic vulnerability.

Dropbear, by Evelyn Araluen.

Dropbear is a breathtaking collection of poetry and short prose which arrests key icons of mainstream Australian culture and turns them inside out, with malice aforethought. Araluen’s brilliance sizzles when she goes on the attack against the kitsch and the cuddly: against Australia’s fantasy of its own racial and environmental innocence.

Homecoming, by Elfie Shiosaki.

Homecoming is both a genre-defying book, and a deeply respectful ode to the persistence of Noongar people in the face of colonisation and its afterlives… Shiosaki has delivered a work of poetic and narrative genius and can be read either as an ensemble of poems or as a single piece that moves seamlessly between the elegiac and the joyful.

No Document, by Anwen Crawford.

No Document is a longform poetic essay that considers the ways we might use an experience of grief to continue living, creating, and reimagining the world we live in with greater compassion and honour… This work is a complex, deeply thought, and deeply felt ode to friendship and collaboration.

Stone Fruit, by Lee Lai.

Lee Lai’s Stone Fruit is a moving graphic novel in which queer couple, Bron and Ray, find themselves at a tense crossroads in their relationship. Throughout scenes rendered in Lai’s signature art style – simple lines and a muted blue and grey colour palette – and featuring spare, perfectly articulated dialogue… Stone Fruit beautifully reflects a tender domesticity that is affecting and atmospheric.

TAKE CARE, Eunice Andrada.

Andrada’s collection adroitly combines the personal, the political, and the geopolitical, narrated by a voice that is at once hip, witty, and deeply serious. Andrada has the imaginative ability to move between the memories of poet-narrators, historical asides, reflections on the nature of race and feminism in Australia, and questions of colonisation both locally and in the Philippines. Formally remarkable, stylistically impressive, and often surprising, TAKE CARE is a collection that understands the ways in which ‘There are things we must kill / so we can live to celebrate.’

If the Stellas are about finding writing that mixes it up and shakes it around a bit, then the contest for this year’s Prize is going to be fascinating.

In the past novels, non-fiction, biographies, and memoirs have won, but in 2022 works of poetry have a better than average chance of prevailing, with the work of three poets in the shortlist.

Then of course there is Stone Fruit, Lee Lai’s graphic novel. Bring on Thursday 28 April, the day the winner is announced I say.

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