Longlisted for the 2024 Stella Prize

Maggie MacKellar – Graft

Nonfiction · Penguin Random House


About the Book

A gorgeously written reflection, set in Tasmania, on motherhood, farming, nature and home.

In my mind I walk over the land. I run my hands through the grass as if it were the hair on my head. I dig my fingers into the dirt as if the soil were the crust of my skin.

Combining pages of her diary, kept through lambing seasons on a wool Merino farm on the east coast of Tasmania, with observations on the world around her, MacKellar writes a stunning thanksgiving on place, mothers, and the ways we cannot escape the elemental laws of nature. Her love for and knowledge of the land on which she lives, the lambs she cares for, and the birds she adores – illustrated in stunning line drawings through the book – are writ large. You will want to leap into the pages and walk beside Maggie as she saves ewes, lambs, tends to her beloved horses and dogs, and considers the challenges and joys of motherhood and farming.

Your Image

“It is hard to think of a finer example of writing the cataclysm of drought particular to Australia than this.”

– 2024 Stella Prize Judges

Maggie Mackellar

About the Author

Maggie MacKellar

Maggie MacKellar is a writer and historian living on the east coast of Tasmania/luruwita. She writes the much-loved newsletter The Sit Spot. Graft is her fifth book.

Further Reading

Judges’ Report

A dispatch from the sharp edge of the climate crisis.

The stunning poetics of MacKellar’s prose, spare yet deeply evocative, belie the urgency of a warning borne of harrowing experience. It is hard to think of a finer example of writing the cataclysm of drought particular to Australia than this. And yet Graft is so much more than its environmental context. With great compassion and humility, MacKellar brilliantly interrogates notions of motherhood, animal husbandry and our relationship with the land we live on and those with whom we share it. She does not shy from the viscera of birth and death yet approaches them with the tempered decency of someone who not only knows how to pay attention to the world around her but also cares for it on a deeply personal level. Graft might well be the new benchmark for Australian nature writing.

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