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The inaugural Stella Prize shortlist

We are thrilled to announce the inaugural shortlist for the Stella Prize. After receiving close to 200 entries, the Stella Prize judges – writer and critic Kerryn Goldsworthy, author Kate Grenville, actor and creator Claudia Karvan, bookseller Fiona Stager and ABC broadcaster Rafael Epstein – came up with a longlist of twelve books that they have now narrowed down to a shortlist of six.

The 2013 Stella Prize shortlist is:

The Burial by Courtney Collins (Allen & Unwin)

Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser (Allen & Unwin)

The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson (Five Islands Press)

Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy (Scribe Publications)

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)

Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany (Picador)

Chair of the judges, Kerryn Goldsworthy, says of the six shortlisted books:

The shortlist features a wide variety of subject matter and genre: the list contains a collection of short stories and a verse novel; it includes fantasy, speculative fiction, two historical novels and one that has been described as Australian Gothic. There are stories set in the past, the present and the future; there are stories set in both urban and rural Australia as well as in other countries and in imagined places.

We noticed a strong common theme in several of the books on the shortlist: Sea HeartsThe Sunlit Zone and Mateship with Birds all explore in thoughtful, imaginative and unexpected ways the relationships and the boundaries between the human and the non-human, showing where those boundaries are weakest and might be broken down.

In choosing a shortlist of six books from the longlist of twelve, the judges concentrated on picking the six we thought were the best books regardless of form, genre and subject matter. While no non-fiction book appears on the shortlist, we were glad to have been able to longlist three, chosen from a large field of entries in which fiction outnumbered non-fiction by almost four to one.

The consistent high quality of the shortlist makes every book listed a serious contender for the prize.

Full reports on each of the six shortlisted books can be found here.

They are books that rattle our cages and dismantle our cultural scripts – books that brim with ideas and desires. Some are genre-bending and genre-busting; others are genre masterclasses. Some are quietly potent; others are bombastic and irrepressible. But they all demand – command – our full-hearted, full-minded attention..”

And, once again, nearly half of the books on our have longlist come from small/indie publishing houses, testament to the vital role these publishers play in diversifying the Australian literary landscape – our cultural conversation is so profoundly enriched by their risk-taking.

It has been an honour to chair the 2024 Stella Prize, and to read alongside such a compassionate and insightful panel. My deepest thanks to my fellow judges: Eleanor Jackson, Bram Presser, Yves Rees and Cheryl Leavy.

It is my second year in a row reading for Stella. Since August of 2022, I’ve read close to 500 works by Australian women and non-binary writers. The heartbeat of Australian writing is here. These writers deserve a global readership. It is culturally damning that the great majority of them struggle to eke out a sustainable career at home.

Just one reason why the Stella Prize matters.

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