Past winners include:
- Carrie Tiffany for Mateship with Birds (2013)
- Claire Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka (2014)
- Emily Bitto for The Strays (2015)
I must admit, I have not yet read any of the longlist. But there are a few on my 'To be Read' list. So, let's take a closer look at the longlist.
The Women’s Pages by Debra Adelaide
Adelaide is an established author of both fiction and non-fiction. The Women's Pages is a novel about the decisions women make, their compromises and experiences of loss. The main character Dove reads Wuthering Heights to her dying mother and is profoundly influenced. She decides to write her own novel about an independent woman named Ellis. As Dove writes her book, The Women's Pages becomes a novel within a novel.
Set in the 1960s, Charlotte is struggling with her life as a wife, parent and artist. Her husband Henry suggests travelling to Australia in the hopes of regaining their life before children. As they emigrate to Perth the novel explores themes of home, nostalgia, family and love. Bishop is an established writer and was previously shortlisted for the Vogel Literary Award as well as named one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Australian novelists.
Panthers and the Museum of Fire by Jen Craig
This is a novella by Sydney based writer and micro-fiction blogger Jen Craig. The protagonist walks from her Glebe home to a cafe in Surry Hills with a manuscript written by a friend who has passed away. Another book within a book, Craig has been praised for her stream-of-consciousness style writing. I am particularly intrigued by this book as I know the Glebe to Surry Hills path well, and the title is taken from a sign on the highway in Western Sydney that I pass en route to the Blue Mountains.
At the 2015 Sydney Writers Festival, Daylight moderated a number of the sessions I attended and I was impressed by her critical engagement with fiction and writers. She mentioned this new collection of short stories about that awkward period between adolescence and adulthood through which we all pass. Many critics have compared her work to Alice Munro. This book is definitely on my list for reading soon.
In this coming of age story set in the 1980s, thirteen year old Silver is taken to a hippie commune by her mother. Silver longs for stability, while her mother is infatuated by the new man in her life. Mother-daughter relationships, growing up, belonging and first loves are explored. This is the second novel from Frew, after her award winning debut House of Sticks (2010).
Harrower is an internationally known author of five novels including The Watch Tower. This book is a collection of twelve short stories she has written over five decades. It includes the story "Alice" which was published in the New Yorker in 2015. I love short stories and I am interested in reading this collection.
The title of this book is drawn from a Nabakov short story in 1925, written when he lived in Berlin. Jones has set her sixth novel in a wintery Berlin and uses Nabakov as a catalyst. A group of international travellers gather in empty apartments to share memories and talk about the Russian author. Blending literature, history and storytelling this novel sounds intriguing.
Juchau is a well regarded Australian author who has previously been shortlisted for various literary awards. This, her third novel, is about the Muller family who reside on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales. Grieving the loss of a child, Evangeline is no longer able to paint and struggles to care for her remaining daughters. Her apiarist husband also mourns and seeks solace in drink.
Tasmanian author Amanda Lohrey's allegorical novel follows Richard from childhood to middle age, and is described by the publisher as a 'pilgrim's progress for the here and now'. As a middle class, middle aged man, he is is still trying to determine what he wants. While I have heard good things about this book, the subject matter - one man's first world problems - doesn't interest me.
This is a debut novel of a Melbourne based writer. A woman disappears from a farm without a trace, leaving her family behind. Her ten year old daughter Laura takes on as much of the household duties as she can. Spanning the next 35 years of Laura's life, the novel explores families, nature, secrets and loss.
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (read review)
Wood's novel has been compared to Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale and as such is definitely on my reading list. Two women are drugged and taken to an isolated property where they find they are imprisoned with eight other girls. Each has a common past for which they are being punished in this powerful feminist novel.
The only non-fiction on the longlist, Australian poet Fiona Wright draws together ten intimate essays about anorexia and body image. In high school Wright developed an eating disordered that almost killed her after ten years with the disease.
The Shortlist will be announced on 10 March 2016 with the prize announced on 19 April 2016.