Shortlisted for the 2024 Stella Prize

Katherine Brabon – Body Friend

Fiction · Ultimo Press

Body Friend

About the Book

Late in the summer five years ago, when I was recovering from a surgical procedure, I met two women within a few weeks of each other and I saw both of them regularly, always separately, for some months afterwards. Summer did not give way easily that year, and even so we must force our bodies down to sleep in the heat, and even if experience does not give itself up easily to representation, I will lay it down anyway; frame the raw and exigent weeks, the untrustworthy months after the hospital, render it and them, Frida and Sylvia, as closely as possible to reality—or whatever is the feeling
 of a life and mind lived inside a body.

A woman leaves the hospital after an operation and starts swimming in a pool in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. There she meets Frida, who is uncannily like her in her experience of illness. Soon after, she meets another woman in a local park, Sylvia, who sees her pain and encourages her to rest.

The two new friends seem to be polar opposites: Frida adores the pool and the natural world, Sylvia clings to the protection of interior worlds. What begins as two seemingly simple friendships is challenged by what each woman asks of her, of themselves, and their bodies.

Your Image

“This is a novel of experiential heft and eloquence, which gives shape to the complexities of chronic pain.”

– 2024 Stella Prize Judges

Katherine Brabon Body Friend

About the Author

Katherine Brabon

Katherine Brabon is the author of the critically acclaimed works The Memory Artist, The Shut Ins and Body Friend. She has been listed for multiple literary awards and her short form work has appeared in Vogue, Australian Book Review, The Australian Financial Review, The Saturday Paper, Island, Meanjin, The Lifted Brow, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald. She lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.

Further Reading

Judges’ Report

Explore the latest from Stella

This month Stella celebrates Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss, longlisted for the 2022 Stella Prize. We asked Anita about her career, the …

Meet the judges

The Stella Interview: Astrid Edwards Astrid Edwards is the 2025 Stella Prize Chair of Judges. She is a literary critic, educator and …

Help change the story

As a not-for-profit organisation with ambitious goals, Stella relies on the generous support of donors to help fund our work.

Every donation is important to us and allows Stella to continue its role as the leading voice for gender equality and cultural change in Australian literature.

Stella is a not-for-profit organisation with DGR status. All donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible.