Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Stella Prize 2013 Longlist: Another reading challenge!

The 12-book longlist for the inaugural Stella Prize, a major new literary award for Australian women’s writing, was announced today. I am excited and raring to go on another longlist reading journey!

I'm actually starting ahead of where I was with last year's Booker Prize longlist, because I've already read 2 of the 12 titles. Buuuuuut, the Prize is announced on 16 April - a mere 7 weeks, 5 days from now - and I am rather extremely busy with work, life, and things, so it'll be a bit of a push. Still, I like a challenge, and it's books, after all - how bad can it be?

The two longlisted titles I've read are:

1. Romy Ash, Floundering
I reviewed this book last June, and it's haunting. A very worthy prize entrant. My review is here.

2. Margo Lanagan, Sea Hearts
Oh, how wide, how deep is my love for this book. My review is here.

The other 10 titles, in no particular order, are:

3. Dylan Coleman, Mazin Grace
4. Courtney Collins, The Burial
5. Robin de Crespigny, The People Smuggler: The True Story of Ali Al Jenabi
6. Michelle de Kretser, Questions of Travel
7. Amy Espeseth, Sufficient Grace
8. Lisa Jacobson, The Sunlit Zone
9. Cate Kennedy, Like a House on Fire
10. Patti Miller, The Mind of a Thief
11. Stephanie Radok, An Opening
12. Carrie Tiffany, Mateship with Birds

Based on the descriptions, it is a cracking list. There are at least 4 debuts by my count (and I'm not sure about Radok's book, it might be a first too, which would make 5). There are 5 books that feature the Australian landscape in very different ways (I'm highly intrigued by the blurb on The Burial in this context), and two that evoke the wonders of the sea (Sea Hearts and The Sunlit Zone). No less than 9 of them purport to deal with "a terrible secret", "a painful truth" or "a line that's been crossed" - dark and moody FTW, it seems. There are short story collections, non-fiction, memoirs and fiction. There are, indeed, two books with Grace in the title :-) It is, as I said, a diverse, fascinating list, and I'm eager to get going on it.

I've picked out the two that grabbed my interest most based on their little write-ups on the Stella site to start off: Courtney Collins' The Burial and Michelle de Kretser's Questions of Travel. Both are safely downloaded to my e-reader, awaiting the weekend and my first reading opportunity. I'll probably review them as a pair, unless I am so enamoured of either that I feel they need a post all to themselves.

This is going to be fun :-)

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