Interview: Beejay Silcox – 2024 Stella Prize Chair of Judges
An interview with writer, critic, Artistic Director of Canberra Writers Festival and 2024 Stella Prize Chair of Judges, Beejay Silcox.
What excites you most as a judge and awarding the 2024 Stella Prize?
Reading for a literary prize is like taking a cultural core sample. You get to understand – on a granular level – what preoccupies us in this moment, what spectres haunts us, what dreams sustain us, what injuries we carry and inflict, and what we wish we could remember and can’t forget. It’s a special reading experience made more resonant because it is collaborative. I can’t wait to see what my fellow judges think of each book and go on this literary adventure together.
Why is judging the Stella Prize important to you?
Stella changes lives. I was a judge last year, and I saw it happen. It’s not just the prize money – although that certainly helps – it’s the validation and the amplification. Stella gets brilliant books into the hands and hearts of readers. That’s some potent cultural magic.
Why did you become so involved in the book industry?
I was a lonely kid from country Western Australia. Books have been my unwavering companion, my quiet joy, my cubby-hole and my escape route, my heartbeat. Reading saved my life. I’m just returning the favour.
Tell us something about yourself that we won’t find on your CV.
I used to be a nationally competitive pistol shooter. You want me on your paintball team! I also have a puppy called Stella, and that’s not a coincidence.
Beejay was a 2023 Stella Prize judge. Click here to read her 2023 Stella Prize interview.