2024 Stella Prize shortlist videos

Stella presents Hospital, performed by Safia Arain.

Up-and-coming actor Safia Arain shines a light on a scene from Hospital, by Sanya Rushi and translated by Arunava Sinha.

About the book: In Melbourne a one-time research student with interests in philosophy and psychology is diagnosed with her third episode of psychosis. As she is moved from her family home to a community house and then to hospital, she questions the diagnosis of her sanity or insanity, as determined and defined by a medical model which seems less than convincing to her. Indeed, questioning seems to be at the heart of her psychosis, in her over-active interpretations of signs and gestures, thoughts and emotions – and one understands these to be an expression of her intelligence, even if they seem illusory. She tells her story in a calm, rational voice, with an acute sense of detail and an objective air, as she wonders when the next psychotic episode will materialise, or if it hasn’t already arrived. Read more …

About the actor: Safia is a Sydney-based actor of Pakistani descent. Recently she played the role of Hind Al-Hamedi in the Matchbox Pictures and ABC production House of Gods. She also appears as a series regular in all 4 seasons of the Stan Original series Bump. Other credits include The Appleton Ladies’ Potato RaceThe Last King of the CrossUnderbelly: Vanishing ActPieces of Her and Amazing Grace. Safia is strongly influenced by her Muslim faith and the power of the arts and storytelling to heal and transform.

Filmed and edited by Samantha Meuleman

Produced by Fiona Sweet and Claudia Nankervis

Make up: Annie Rose Foretti for for MECCA M-POWER

“I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t really believe that I’d be allowed to, in the same way that I wasn’t allowed to play footy, even though I loved it and stole every moment of game time that I could. The more accessible authors are, the more accessible the idea of writing becomes.”

What do you think or hope the benefits of the Stella Prize Schools Program, and the recommended texts will be for students?

Fair and proportional representation among books that reflect Australia’s truly diverse society – on every level, whether that be culture, religion, sexuality, ability, any perceived ‘difference’. Not just because it’s right and fair, or because I believe in equality, but because anything less than this robs the next generation of a rich and full understanding of the world. And because as someone much smarter than me said, every child should be able to find themselves in stories.

What Australian authors should young readers get to know?

Kate Grenville, Rebecca Lim, Melissa Keil, Sally Rippin, Stella (Miles) Franklin, Tony Birch… That’s a good start.

What advice would you give to young aspiring writers?

Read everything you can get your hands on, and write every day.

Explore the latest from Stella

This month we celebrate Sarah Holland-Batt’s poetry collection The Jaguar, winner of the 2023 Stella Prize. The book opened a much-needed conversation …

2024 Past Judges

Beejay Silcox – Chair Beejay is a writer, literary critic, and the Artistic Director of the Canberra Writers Festival. Her reviews and …

Meet our partners: Kat Francis – managing director at Canyon We sat down with Kat Francis, managing director at Canyon, to talk …

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