The long list for the 2015 Stella Prize, the prestigious award celebrating women’s contribution to writing books, has been released.
In the prize’s second year, the women in the running to win the $50,000 purse prove that this is a literary award that is committed to identifying the best female writers of the year.
The 2015 long list includes acclaimed non-fiction author Helen Garner, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Sonya Hartnett.
In just two years, the Stella Prize has already become a fixture on the Australian literary calendar, significantly boosting book sales and raising author profiles.
Maxine Beneba Clarke
Short stories giving a voice to the disenfranchised, as written by a fictional mother living in a run-down block of flats in Melbourne’s western suburbs. The stories spring from Sydney’s notorious Villawood detention centre, the squats of 1960s’ Brixton, small-town Mississippi, rural Jamaica and more.
On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends one of the daughters of infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are trying to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work at their family home. The Strays is an engrossing story of ambition, sacrifice and compromised loyalties.
Only the Animals is an animal’s-eye view of humans at our brutal, violent worst and our creative, imaginative best, it asks us to find our way back to empathy not only for animals, but for other people, and to believe again in the redemptive power of reading and writing fiction.
In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. Ms Garner follows a triple-murder trial of Victorian Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, who was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam.
Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian have moved to a new, working-class suburb. The Jensons are different. Their father, Rex, showers them with gifts – toys, bikes, all that glitters most – and makes them the envy of the neighbourhood. But to Colt he’s an impossible figure in a different way: unbearable, suffocating. Has Colt got Rex wrong, or has he seen something in his father that will destroy their fragile new lives?
In The Invisible History of the Human Race, Christine Kenneally reveals that, remarkably, it is not only our biological history that is coded in our DNA, but also our social history. She breaks down myths of determinism and draws on cutting-edge research to explore how both historical artefacts and our DNA tell us where we have come from and where we may be going.
Allen & Unwin
Told from the mesmerising point of view and in the inimitable voice of Jimmy, this is an extraordinary novel about a poor family who is struggling to cope with a different and difficult child. Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him.
It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond. Children must learn that they are alone, even within their families.
When my dad dropped us off at the front gate, the first things I saw were the rose garden spreading out on either side of the main driveway. Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches the cabinet at work, and is courted by them, Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity.
Jen has moved back to the quiet coastal hamlet of her childhood and spent many years tending to her semi-isolated forest home, creating a safe haven for her and the birds she lovingly draws. She has minimal contact with the gossiping townsfolk, instead getting updates from her talented drawing student Henry. Nest, deals with loss, grief and healing, and the role that nature and creativity play.
Ellen van Neerven
Ellen van Neerven has created three parts. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, van Neerven offers a futuristic imagining of a people whose existence is under threat. While in ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.
Allen & Unwin
Poignant and moving memoir of Elizabeth Ward, known to one and all as Biff, who grew up in the 1950s in a household that tiptoed around her mother’s demons and her father’s fame.