The Stella Prize is a major literary award celebrating women’s writing in Australia. It is named after one of Australia’s most iconic female authors – Stella Maria ‘Miles’ Franklin – and is open to female authors of fiction and non-fiction. It was first awarded in 2013. From a field of 170 entries the 2016 shortlist were announced on Thursday 10 March 2016 and are all available for loan at Hurstville Library and Penshurst Branch Library.
Six bedrooms, Tegan Bennet Daylight
Six bedrooms is about growing up; about discovering sex; and about coming of age. Full of glorious angst, embarrassment and small achievements. Hot afternoons on school ovals, the terrifying promise of losing your virginity, sneaking booze from your mother’s pantry, the painful sophistication and squalor of your first share house, cancer, losing a parent. Tegan Bennett Daylight’s powerful collection captures the dangerous, tilting terrain of becoming adult. Over these ten stories, we find acute portrayals of loss and risk, of sexual longing and wreckage, blunders and betrayals. Threaded through the collection is the experience of troubled, destructive Tasha, whose life unravels in unexpected ways, and who we come to love for her defiance, her wit and her vulnerability. Stunningly written, and shot through with humour and menace, Six bedrooms is a mesmerising collection of moments from adolescence through adulthood, a mix of all the potent ingredients that make up a life.
Hope farm is the masterful second novel from award winning author Peggy Frew, and is a devastatingly beautiful story about the broken bonds of childhood and the enduring cost of holding back the truth.
‘One day, Alice said, ‘Eric Lane wants to take me to – ‘ For the first time, her mother attended, standing still. Eric was brought to the house, and Eric and Alice were married before there was time to say ‘knife’. How did it happen? She tried to trace it back. She was watching her mother performing for Eric, and then (she always paused here in her mind), somehow, she woke up married and in another house.’ Internationally acclaimed for her five brilliant novels, Elizabeth Harrower is also the author of a small body of short fiction. A few days in the country brings together for the first time her stories published in Australian journals in the 1960s and 1970s, along with those from her archives – including ‘Alice’, published for the first time earlier this year in the New Yorker. Essential reading for Harrower fans, these finely turned pieces show a broader range than the novels, ranging from caustic satires to gentler explorations of friendship.
The world without us, Mireille Juchau
After a fire destroys her family’s commune home, Evangeline is forced to start afresh in the north coast rainforest town with her child, and partner, Stefan Muller. Years later, while tending the bees on their farm, Stefan discovers a car wreck, and not far off, human remains. While the locals speculate on who has gone missing from the transient hinterland town, Stefan’s daughters Tess and Meg, have a more urgent mystery. Where does their mother go each day, pushing an empty pram and returning wet, muddy and dishevelled?
Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of a desert. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a ‘nurse’. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue – but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.
Small acts of disappearance, Fiona Wright
Small acts of disappearance is a collection of ten essays that describes the authors affliction with an eating disorder which begins in high school, and escalates into life-threatening anorexia over the next ten years. Fiona Wright is a highly regarded poet and critic, and her account of her illness is informed by a keen sense of its contradictions and deceptions, and by an awareness of the empowering effects of hunger, which is unsparing in its consideration of the authors own actions and motivations. The essays offer perspectives on the eating disorder at different stages in Wright’s life, at university where she finds herself in a radically different social world to the one she grew up in, in Sri Lanka as a fledgling journalist, in Germany as a young writer, in her hospital treatments back in Sydney. The essays combine research, travel writing, memoir, and literary discussions of how writers like Christina Stead, Carmel Bird, Tim Winton, John Berryman and Louise Glück deal with anorexia and addiction; together with accounts of family life, and detailed and humorous views of hunger-induced situations of the kind that are so compelling in Wright’s poetry.