The Stella Prize is a new major literary award for Australian women’s writing.
The Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s contribution to literature. Named after one of Australia’s most important female authors, Stella Maria ‘Miles’ Franklin (1879–1954), the prize rewards one writer with a significant monetary prize of $50,000.
At the end of last month Marg posted the Stella Prize longlist - sadly the library only has three of them but all were on the shelf so I brought them home , had a 'Stella week' and here are a few brief thoughts on each.
Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser
Two side-by-side narratives.
Laura is an Australian who after an unhappy childhood uses the inheritance she receives from an aunt to to travel the world. Eventually she returns to Sydney and works for a publisher of travel guides.
Ravi grows up and marries in Sri Lanka but after tragedy strikes he is forced to leave and seek asylum in Australia.
Spanning the decades from the 1970's to the 2000's it is a story of love and loss......and travel. With gorgeous descriptions of foreign places, Australia, Sri Lanka, London and Naples it doesn't ignore the less exciting realities ......long waits for flights, drab hotels , the fleeting 'ships that pass in the night' friendships and the loneliness and yearning for home.
Beautiful, lyrical prose details not only the lives of two different people but explores big themes of our time - what it means to be an asylum seeker, tourism and the corporate world, the growth and influence of technology. Sometimes wickedly funny, sometimes incredibly sad it is enthralling reading and oh my!, the ending was so unexpected!
I loved it and predict it will make the shortlist.
Seahearts by Margo Lanagan aka The Brides of Rollrock Island
On remote Rollrock Island, the sea-witch Misskaella descovers she can draw a girl from the heart of a seal. So, for a price, a man might buy himself a bride; an irresistibly enchanting sea-wife. But what cost will be borne by the people of Rollrock.....
I had some doubts before I began reading - it's labelled YA, I have to be in the right mood for fantasy and it would be the third book I've read in the past few months that draws on one of my favourite folktales, the Selkies, for inspiration.
I shouldn't have worried. Margo Lanagan's writing is a joy to read and it didn't take long to fall under her spell. Told from several perspectives over a long period of time it is a dark, haunting tale of enchantment, desire, betrayals and revenge.
DNF - Sufficient Grace by Amy Espeseth
Ruth and her cousin live in rural Wisconsin, part of an isolated religious community. The girls' lives are ruled by the rhythms of nature and by their families beliefs. Beneath the surface of this closed frozen world, hidden dangers lurk.
"People on the land live close to the beginnings and endings of life. Death ain’t a scary thing that creeps in now and again in the night… We are people that raise, hunt and butcher.”True but I don't want to read about it. The opening pages tell of a 13-year-old killing her first deer with a graphic description of the poor creature's death throes. I found it sickening and feared what was to come might be even worse. I read a little more and the biblical stuff I also didn't like so decided this book wasn't for me.
Looking around most of the comments seem to be positive so I'm probably in a minority of one.