The Longlist for The Sella Prize was announced last night! And there are some amazing books listed.
For those of you who don’t know, The Stella Prize is a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing, and who are also champions of cultural change. Both fiction and non fiction books are eligible for entry. The prize is named after one of Australia’s most iconic writers, Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin. She published her work under the name Miles Franklin. The first Stella award was given in 2013.
The shortlist will be announced on Friday 8 March 2019 at 1pm AEDT.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday 9 April 2019 at 7 pm AEDT.
I am hoping to read a few of these before the winner is announced. Also if I haven’t already read the winner, I will read that too!
I will leave a link to the book along with a section of the blurb. With that said, let’s get onto the books!
Little Gods by Jenny Ackland
Published by: Allen & Unwin
The setting is the Mallee, wide flat scrubland in north-western Victoria, country where men are bred quiet, women stoic and the gothic is never far away. Olive Lovelock has just turned twelve. She is smart, fanciful and brave and on the cusp of something darker than the small world she has known her entire life.
When she learns that she once had a baby sister who died — a child unacknowledged by her close but challenging family — Olive becomes convinced it was murder. Her obsession with the mystery and relentless quest to find out what happened have seismic repercussions for the rest of her family and their community. As everything starts to change it is Olive herself who has the most to lose as the secrets she unearths multiply and take on complicated lives of their own.
Man Out of Time by Stephanie Bishop
Published by: Hachette Australia
When Stella’s father, Leon, disappears in September 2001, the police knock at her door. She baulks at their questions, not sure how to answer. ‘What if I just write it down for you.’
One summer, a long time ago, Stella sat watching her father cry while the sky clouded over. He had tried to make amends: for his failures, for forgetting to buy the doll she once hoped for, for the terrible things he had done.
The first time Stella sensed that something was wrong was on her ninth birthday. There was an accident, and when she opened her eyes there was the tang of blood in her mouth. Leon was beside her. But not quite there. In the winter, when her father finally came home from hospital, he looked different. Looked at her differently.
Now he was missing, and Stella held the key to his discovery. But did he want to be found? And after all that has passed, could Stella bring herself to help him?
Stella’s whole life has been stained by her father’s very struggle to exist. Would this be her inheritance too? Could she choose the steady minutes of an ordinary day? Or would she follow the path of a man out of time?
Bluebottle by Belinda Castles
Published by: Allen & Unwin
As he tilted the blinds she saw her mother in her tennis whites, standing at the kitchen bench, staring out into the dark bushland that bordered their houses. That was what Tricia did these days, looked into the bush as though it would attack one of them.
On a sweltering day in a cliff-top beach shack, Jack and Lou Bright grow suspicious about the behaviour of their charismatic, unpredictable father, Charlie. A girl they know has disappeared, and as the day unfolds, Jack’s eruptions of panic, Lou’s sultry rebellions and their little sister Phoebe’s attention-seeking push the family towards revelation.
Twenty years later, the Bright children have remained close to the cliff edges, russet sand and moody ocean of their childhood. Behind the beautiful surfaces of their daily lives lies the difficult landscape of their past, always threatening to break through. And then, one night in late summer, they return to the house on the cliff…
The Bridge by Enza Gandolfo
Published by: Scribe Publications
In 1970s Melbourne, 22-year-old Italian migrant Antonello is newly married and working as a rigger on the West Gate Bridge, a gleaming monument to a modern city. When the bridge collapses one October morning, killing 35 of his workmates, his world crashes down on him.
In 2009, Jo and her best friend, Ashleigh, are on the verge of finishing high school and flush with the possibilities for their future. But one terrible mistake sets Jo’s life on a radically different course.
The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire by Chloe Hooper
Published by: Penguin Random House
On the scorching February day in 2009 that became known as Black Saturday, a man lit two fires in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, then sat on the roof of his house to watch the inferno. In the Valley, where the rates of crime were the highest in the state, more than thirty people were known to police as firebugs. But the detectives soon found themselves on the trail of a man they didn’t know.
The Arsonist takes readers on the hunt for this man, and inside the strange puzzle of his mind. It is also the story of fire in this country, and of a community that owed its existence to that very element. The command of fire has defined and sustained us as a species – understanding its abuse will define our future.
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
Published by: Text Publishing
The art historian Noah Glass, having just returned from a trip to Sicily, is discovered floating face down in the swimming pool at his Sydney apartment block. His adult children, Martin and Evie, must come to terms with the shock of their father’s death. But a sculpture has gone missing from a museum in Palermo, and Noah is a suspect. The police are investigating.
None of it makes any sense. Martin sets off to Palermo in search of answers about his father’s activities, while Evie moves into Noah’s apartment, waiting to learn where her life might take her. Retracing their father’s steps in their own way, neither of his children can see the path ahead.
Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau
Published by: Brow Books
Monk lives in Chinatown with her washed-up painter father. When Santa Coy—possible boyfriend, potential accomplice—enters their lives, an intoxicating hunger consumes their home. So begins a heady descent into art, casino resorts, drugs, vacant swimming pools, religion, pixelated tutorial videos, and senseless violence.
In bursts of fizzing, staccato and claustrophobic prose, this modern Australian take on the classic hard-boiled novel bounces you between pulverised English, elastic Cantonese and the new dialect of a digitised world.
Tip over into a subterranean noir of the most electronic generation.
The Erratics by Vicki Laveay-Harvie
Published by: Finch Publishing
When her elderly mother is hospitalised after an accident, Vicki is summoned to her parents’ isolated and run-down ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to care for her father. She has been estranged from her parents for many years (the reasons for which become quickly clear) and is horrified by what she discovers on her arrival.
For years her mother has suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness but carefully hidden her delusions and unpredictable behaviour behind a carefully guarded mask, and has successfully isolated herself and her husband from all their friends. But once in hospital her mask begins to crack and her actions leave everyone baffled and confused … and eventually scared for their lives.
Meanwhile Vicki’s father, who has been systematically starved and harruanged for years, and kept virtually a prisoner in his own home, begins to realise what has happened to him and embarks upon plans of his own to combat his wife.
Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee
Published by: Allen & Unwin
A well-established legal doctrine that a defendant must ‘take their victim as they find them’. If a single punch kills someone because of their thin skull, that victim’s weakness cannot mitigate the seriousness of the crime.
But what if it also works the other way? What if a defendant on trial for sexual crimes has to accept his ‘victim’ as she comes: a strong, determined accuser who knows the legal system, who will not back down until justice is done?
Bri Lee began her first day of work at the Queensland District Court as a bright-eyed judge’s associate. Two years later she was back as the complainant in her own case.
This is the story of Bri’s journey through the Australian legal system; first as the daughter of a policeman, then as a law student, and finally as a judge’s associate in both metropolitan and regional Queensland-where justice can look very different, especially for women. The injustice Bri witnessed, mourned and raged over every day finally forced her to confront her own personal history, one she’d vowed never to tell. And this is how, after years of struggle, she found herself on the other side of the courtroom, telling her story.
Too Much Lip by Melissa Lugashenko
Published by: UQP
Too much lip, her old problem from way back. And the older she got, the harder it seemed to get to swallow her opinions. The avalanche of bullshit in the world would drown her if she let it; the least she could do was raise her voice in anger.
Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley.
Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble – but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name.
Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin
Published by: Brow Books
The past shapes the present – they teach us that in schools and universities. This past cannot be visited like an ageing aunt. It doesn’t live in little zoo enclosures. Half the time, this past is nothing less than the beating heart of the present. So, how to speak of the searing, unpindownable power that the past – ours, our family’s, our culture’s – wields in the present?
Stories are not enough, even though they are essential. And books about history, books of psychology – the best of them take us closer, but still not close enough.
Axiomatic is a boundary-shifting fusion of thinking, storytelling, reportage and meditation. It takes as its starting point five axioms:
- ‘Time Heals All Wounds’
- ‘History Repeats Itself…’
- ‘Those Who Forget the Past are Condemned to Repeat It’
- ‘Give Me a Child Before the Age of Seven and I’ll Give You the Woman’
- ‘You Can’t Enter The Same River Twice’
These beliefs—or intuitions—about the role the past plays in our present are often evoked as if they are timeless and self-evident truths. It is precisely because they are neither, yet still we are persuaded by them, that they tell us a great deal about the forces that shape our culture and the way we live.
The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright
Published by: Giramondo Publishing
Our bodies and homes are our shelters, each one intimately a part of the other. But what about those who feel anxious, uncomfortable, unsettled within these havens? In The World Was Whole, Fiona Wright examines how we inhabit and remember the familiar spaces of our homes and suburbs, as we move through them and away from them into the wider world, devoting ourselves to the routines and rituals that make up our lives. These affectingly personal essays consider how all-consuming the engagement with the ordinary can be, and how even small encounters and interactions can illuminate our lives.
Many of the essays are set in the inner and south-western suburbs of a major Australian city in the midst of rapid change. Others travel to the volcanic coastline of Iceland, the mega-city of Shanghai, the rugged Surf Coast of southern Victoria. The essays are poetic and observant, and often funny, animated by curiosity and candour. Beneath them all lies the experience of chronic illness and its treatment, and the consideration of how this can reshape and reorder our assumptions about the world and our place within it.
The books I’m really hoping to get to from the shortlist are:
- Little Gods by Jenny Ackland
- The Bridge by Enza Gandolfo
- The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper
- Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee
- Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin
That’s it for me. Comment down below and let me know if you either a) read any of these or b) want to read any of these.
Until next time, happy reading!