The Swan Book

A hundred years into the future, when climate change has irreparably damaged the earth, a refugee from the frozen northern hemisphere called Bella Donna finds a mute teenage girl she names Oblivia and takes her to live with her on an old derelict warship in a dry, polluted swamp in northern Australia. Three new figures appear: a black swan, an Aboriginal elder who looks like Mick Jagger, and an archangel in a white Commodore. These five creatures anchor Alexis Wright’s brilliantly surreal and inventive novel about imagination and the power of story.

The Night Guest

This is a remarkable debut novel that recalls the classic Australian TV series Mother and Son in the way it uses humour to soften the reality of dementia. Ruth at 75, widowed when her husband dies suddenly of a heart attack, is living alone in their house on the New South Wales coast when one night she’s woken by noises in the house. What she can hear, she thinks, is a tiger in the living room.

Mullumbimby

Goorie woman Jo Breen has gone the long way around the question of Aboriginal land rights and has purchased her own piece of Bundjalung country, in the beautiful northern hinterland of Byron Bay. The conflict at this novel’s heart is between two Aboriginal claimants to land rights, with Jo as observer.

Burial Rites

The year is 1828, the place is Iceland, and Agnes Magnúsdóttir has been convicted of murder and condemned to death. Billeted with a local farmer and his family, Agnes wins first the trust and eventually the affection of the family as the time of her death approaches and she muses over the events that have brought her to this place.

Letter to George Clooney

This is novelist Debra Adelaide’s first collection of short stories, and while readers will recognise her dry wit, quirky imagination and fundamental seriousness of purpose, it’s also clear that she has mastered the requirements of the short-story form. Adelaide’s sheer range is impressive, and there is no slick or same-y surface even to the most light-hearted of these stories.

Mateship With Birds

Mateship with Birds is a deceptively gentle-looking novel whose calm surface belies its many sharp and frank observations about the world. Set in country Victoria in the 1950s, it follows the fortunes of two people whose loneliness is offset by the many active strands of their daily lives.”

– 2013 Stella Prize Judges

The Museum of Modern Love

The Museum of Modern Love is an exceptional novel that reimagines Marina Abramovic’s 2010 performance of ‘The Artist is Present’, in which she silently encountered individual members of a larger audience of viewers while seated in the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.”

– 2017 Stella Prize Judges

The High Places

Fiona McFarlane’s collection of stories, The High Places, is consistently brilliant, inventive and memorable. These are richly observed stories about complex people and situations, told by a gifted writer.

An Isolated Incident

An Isolated Incident is a compelling story that considers the part the media plays in sensationalising crime, the plight of those whose lives are forever changed by an act of violence, and community acceptance of violence against women.

Between a Wolf and a Dog

Between a Wolf and a Dog is Georgia Blain’s final novel, and it is a triumph: finely structured, suspenseful and morally acute. It is an accomplished and sympathetic novel about love and motherhood, therapy, the impact of betrayal, and the choices that arise from acts of irresponsibility, or from careful deliberation.

Heat and Light

Ellen van Neerven moves with ease between realism and fantasy, using elements of myth and mysticism in her storytelling. From one story to the next, the content is always rich and suggestive and the writing is always beautiful and clever. Each of these stories is told with passion and conviction; van Neerven writes with the confidence, maturity, and subtlety of someone twice her age, and with startling originality.

Nest

Now middle-aged, Jen lives alone in the rainforest landscape of her childhood, where the dark stories from that time still haunt her. Once a teacher, she’s now an artist who gives private lessons to a talented schoolboy who functions as a conduit, giving her news of the local community. So when he arrives one day disturbed by the disappearance of a fellow student, it’s the beginning of a long story that winds back into the past.