I really enjoy the Australian Women Writers Challenge, now in its second year. The Stella Prize was started in 2013 and that made my reading choice for the 2014 challenge quite easy. Reading the Stella Prize 2013 longlist was an excellent choice. The longlist was some of the best writing from 2012 by Australian Women Writers. It was nice to have it all set out for me ready to go and I found the books to be easily accessible via the local library and in e-book form. Also, as I did last year when the Australian Women Writers Challenge began, I found myself marvelling at the excellent writing that flies under the radar here. It illustrates the need for the Australian Women Writers Challenge and the Stella Prize beautifully.
The Stella Longlist from 2013 is:
Floundering by Romy Ash (1st novel)
Mazin Grace by Dylan Coleman (Aboriginal author)
The People Smuggler: The true story of Ali Al Jenabi by Robyn de Crespigny (non fiction)
Sufficient Grace by Amy Espeseth (1st novel)
An Opening: 12 Love Stories About Art by Stephanie Radok
Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy
The Mind of a Thief by Patti Miller
The Burial by Courtney Collins
Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (young adult novel)
Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany (winner Stella Prize 2013)
The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson
The Shortlist was:
Mateship with Birds
Like a House on Fire
The Sunlit Zone
Questions of Travel
I have reviewed 7 of the Stella Prize Longlist. The books reviewed are:
Like a House on Fire; The Sunlit Zone (also reviewed by Lauredhel here); Mateship with Birds; Questions of Travel; Sea Hearts; The Mind of a Thief; and The People Smuggler: The true story of Ali Al Jenabi the ‘Oskar Schindler’ of Asia. The book titles link to my reviews.
So which one would I have awarded the prize to? I think the judges got it right with the shortlist and I thought that Carrie Tiffany was a deserving winner. I would not have been surprised had they chosen any of the other five on the shortlist all would have been worthy winners. Had I had to choose I would have been hard pressed to decide between The Sunlit Zone and Like a House on Fire with Sea Hearts running a close third. If I had to make a decision I probably would have gone with The Sunlit Zone. But only just.