Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Stella Prize Shortlist 2017

The Stella Prize shortlist was announced on International Women's Day. The six titles vying for the prize are:

Georgia Blain - Between a Wolf and a Dog
This novel takes place over the course of one day in Sydney.  Esther is a family therapist who works to bring people together, while personally her own relationships are strained. The judges described the late Georgia Blain's final novel as "a triumph: finely structured, suspenseful and morally acute."  I am not familiar with Blain's work but by all accounts she was a fine writer.

Maxine Beneba Clarke - The Hate Race
The judges describe this memoir as "an important account of growing up in suburban Australia in the 1980s and 1990s." Maxine Beneba Clarke, an Australian of Afro-Carribean descent, faced discrimination and casual racism, and through this book she shows the complacency of white Australia and the reluctance to deal with issues of race. I have seen interviews with Clarke and have read some of her poetry, but have not yet read this book.

Catherine de Saint Phalle - Poum and Alexandre
I must admit, I have never heard of this book, nor its author. Catherine de Saint Phalle is a Melbourne based author and this is her first work of non-fiction. It is a memoir of her unmarried parents and their lives in Paris. The judges describe this as a "tender portrait of a lifelong partnership [that] deserves to be an instant classic of the biography genre."

Emily Maguire - An Isolated Incident
I read this book in 2016 and really enjoyed it. A page-turning psychological thriller set in rural Australia, Maguire switches perspectives between two different women as the mystery unfolds. I can see why this was nominated as it is a taut novel which addresses issues such as domestic violence, sexism and discrimination from a feminist perspective. My review of Maguire's book is available on this blog.

Heather Rose - The Museum of Modern Love
This is the seventh novel of Tasmanian author Heather Rose. The judges describe this as "an ambitious novel that demonstrates the value of art as a catalyst for love, connection, and an apprehension of mystery." The novel ponders deep questions through characters attending a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Sounds interesting, and I totally I love the cover of this book. Update June 2017: Read review.

Cory Taylor - Dying: A Memoir
Taylor wrote this book while she was dying from cancer. A life-affirming memoir about dying, novelist Taylor details why she wanted to choose the circumstances of her death. While I have no doubt this book is well written, I don't feel like I want to read this book. Having recently read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), I know that books about death can be inspiring and uplifting, but I think I will pass on this at this time.

The winner revealed on 18 April 2017. The only one I have read is An Isolated Incident and I reckon it is pretty good. But I am keen to read some the others as well.