#2019StellaPrize Shortlist

And here it is. The 2019 Stella Prize Shortlist. I have read one (Little Gods) and have another (The Bridge) on my radar for reading this month.

The winner will be announced in the evening on Tuesday, April 9. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow the excitement on the night via #2019StellaPrize.

34 thoughts on “#2019StellaPrize Shortlist

  1. #TrueConfessions: I won’t be reading The Erratics or Axiomatic, and I’ve tried reading Pink Locust twice and sent it back to the library unread.
    I won’t mind if any of the other three win it, but I’d be rapt if The Bridge did. It was a long time between books for Enza Gandolfo and I’d love her to have the opportunity to take time off work to write full time.

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      • I’m a bit the same. I’ve always had an uncertain relationship with prize winners. The ones I’ve loved the most are ones I read in spite of their prize, rather than because of, on account of them falling in line with my reading tastes. There are quite a few prize winners on my shelf gathering dust along their pristine spines – best of intentions not followed through on!

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      • I find I’m less likely to enjoy books that have won prestigious awards. I bought one years ago, Carpenteria I think it won the Miles Franklin award, it nearly put me to sleep.

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      • I’m not really surprised, Xavier Herbert is an author who hasn’t aged well. And yet, I’ll put in a word for him: he was one of the first, very few in his era, to write about Indigenous people as real people rather than literary wallpaper, and although today we say that Indigenous people should tell their own stories, he was a catalyst for a long overdue change in attitudes and the prize was part of that. I read Capricornia at uni in the 1970s, and was impressed by his achievement but not rapt in it as a book. More recently I listened to it on audio read by Humphrey Bower (who is one of the best) and enjoyed it much more.
        I think if I’d been a prize judge back then I’d have given him the prize over books that were better literature because of the importance of the wake-up call that he was making. In the same way that we’re seeing quite a few books about LGBTIQ and mental issues that IMO are not enjoyable reading and not always very well-written, but they are getting prominence because of the importance of their message.

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  2. I’ll be trying to red the whole list (halfway through The Bridge and loving it. Have read The Erratics – good writing but personally problematic for me!).
    I still can’t quite believe Th Arsonist isn’t there…

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  3. LOL Claire Louisa, I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve mixed up the names of those two books!
    And yes, Alexis Wright is not easy reading. She has a totally different style of writing which I call ‘circular’ that is, it doesn’t follow the same kind of narrative arc that we are used to because it has origins in Indigenous oral story-telling.
    I hasten to add that this is just my own non-academic interpretation of it, based entirely on the experience of listening to an Indigenous story-teller up at Echuca some years ago. He talked about how western conceptions of time don’t apply in Indigenous story-telling, but hey, that might just be the Echuca mob who say that. Reams of academic analysis by people who know what they’re talking about would probably be much more revealing about what’s going on in Carpentaria. The problem is that any academic stuff we can find online is always nearly as long as the book, and that is not what we non-academics need IMO. We just want something short and straightforward to set us on the right path so that we can work out what’s going on and enjoy the book!

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    • Yes I agree, I really want to know their history and their continued issues, but it needs to be in such a way I can absorb it easily and with some degree of enjoyment, if you can say enjoyment for gard to read subjects.

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      • So perhaps it is common across Australia.
        And yet, it’s not common in the Indigenous novels that I’ve read, which might just be because publishers encourage a storytelling style that the public is used to, or because it’s a by-product of a non-Indigenous literary culture. Maybe the non-linear style is what makes Carpentaria distinctive and why it’s called innovative. (Though in a way, and I don’t mean this unkindly to anybody at all, it’s odd to call a storytelling style that’s 60,000 years old ‘innovative’.)

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      • You’re right there!
        There’s probably a lot of merit in the thought that publishers hold sway over the structure of the story telling. We are seeing more challenges to this via smaller publishers, as time goes by.

        Like

  4. What a list! Too Much Lip and Axiomatic have been on my radar (though I know, and can see in the comments here, there are some mixed feelings about the latter). Really surprised not to see The Arsonist, too. Any gut feelings for the winner? (I’m terrible at picking the ones that get the gong – I thought Normal People was a shoo-in for the Man Booker last year, didn’t even make the shortlist πŸ˜‚)

    Liked by 1 person

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