Evie Wyld’s 2021 Stella Prize acceptance speech
I would be grateful for this award in any context. To be in the company of writers as talented as the shortlist, and the longlist, has been a massive privilege and there is a huge amount to be learnt from all of their books, as well as a huge amount of enjoyment to be had. I thank them, and I thank my publishers around the world, my literary agent, and most of all the team at Stella for providing this space for women and non-binary writer’s work to be seen and celebrated.
And in the context of this last year, in which lockdown and home school conspired to squeeze every last second of time, this award feels like an especially welcome validation.
I started writing The Bass Rock in 2014, in a pre-MeToo world and I’m talking about it now in a post-COVID one.
The pandemic feels like an experiment in how much women can be forced to absorb as they take on the majority of unpaid work and childcare during lockdown. Globally, domestic abuse cases rose dramatically. Last month, in the UK, as lockdown protocols began to loosen, a young woman called Sarah Everard was murdered as she walked home and in the public conversation around female safety and their experiences of sexual violence the hashtag “NotAllMen” resurfaced.
When I first thought about writing this book, in which the central idea was that all of the violence ever committed against women was committed by the same malign presence, I thought it would have to be high concept, speculative, full of magic and monsters. But as I wrote it, I came to see that the power of this story came from the threads that bound these three women in their common experience.
The problem is it’s not a monster, it’s part of the fabric of everything.
The poisonous narratives that lead women to believe that their safety is worth less than male dignity begin with the messages we send about what sort of work matters, that male work does matter, and female work does not.
This prize continues to say loudly that the work of women and non-binary writers matter. And for that I am extremely grateful.
– Evie Wyld, winner of the 2021 Stella Prize for The Bass Rock