The Stella Prize longlist 2018

The longlist for this year’s Stella Prize has been announced. This $50,000 prize is awarded for the best work of literature, fiction or non-fiction, published in 2017 by an Australian woman.

Chair of the Stella Prize judging panel, Fiona Stager, says: ‘Our longlist challenges the reader to experience the pleasures of reading different forms of writing: speculative fiction, novella, memoir, biography, non-narrative nonfiction, history, short stories and work in translation. Included on the longlist are authors who have inverted genres through imaginative and subversive literary techniques and by incorporating traditional storytelling practices of mythology and magic realism. Reflected also is the power of contemporary Aboriginal storytelling as well as the truly international life experiences of our writers.’

Below are the 12 longlisted books for the 2018 Stella Prize.


The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

This extraordinary novel is set in Iran during the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Using the lyrical magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling, Shokoofeh Azar draws the reader deep into the heart of a family caught in the maelstrom of post-revolutionary chaos and brutality that sweeps across an ancient land and its people.


A Writing Life by Bernadette Brennan

A Writing Life is the first full-length study of Helen Garner’s 40 years of work – a literary portrait that maps all of the author’s books against the different stages of her life. Bernadette Brennan has had access to previously unavailable papers in Garner’s archive, and she provides a lively and rigorous reading of the books, journals and correspondence of one of Australia’s most beloved writers.

Read our review here


Anaesthesia by Kate Cole-Adams

170 years ago, many people chose death over the ordeal of surgery. Now hundreds of thousands of us undergo operations every day. Anaesthesia has made this possible. But how much do we really know about what happens to us on the operating table? In Anaesthesia, Kate Cole-Adams leavens science with personal experience to bring an intensely human curiosity to the unknowable realm beyond consciousness.

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Terra Nullius by Claire Coleman

This is not the Australia of our history… The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to have a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, reeducation is enforced. This rich land will provide for all. In her stunning fiction debut, Claire Coleman reimagines Australia’s colonial settlement, moving between perspectives and weaving in futuristic elements.

Read our review here


The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser

Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood memories whenever possible, but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time. Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka, The Life to Come is a dazzling meditation on intimacy, loneliness and our flawed perception of other people.

Read our review here


This Water: Five Tales by Beverley Farmer

Beverley Farmer is one of Australia’s great prose stylists, and a pioneer of women’s writing, in her exploration of feminine concerns, and her use of different literary forms including novel, short story, poetry, essay, journal, myth and fairy tale. This Water is a collection of five tales – each a fragmentary love story with a nameless woman at the centre, as well as a mythic dimension rooted in the power of nature.


The Green Bell by Paula Keogh

It’s 1972 in Canberra. Michael Dransfield is being treated for a drug addiction; Paula Keogh is delusional and grief-stricken. They meet in a psychiatric unit of the Canberra Hospital and instantly fall in love. But can their relationship survive outside the hospital walls? The Green Bell is a lyrical and profoundly moving story about love and madness. It explores the ways that extreme experience can change us: expose our terrors and open us to ecstasy for the sake of a truer life, a reconciliation with who we are.

Read our review here


An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen

A novel told in five parts, An Uncertain Grace asks provocative questions about how the relationship between technology and sex will evolve and shape relationships. The story opens with university lecturer Caspar receiving a gift from a former student called Liv: a memory stick containing a virtual narrative. Hooked up to a virtual reality bodysuit, he becomes immersed in the experience of their past sexual relationship. But this time it is her experience.

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The Choke by Sofie Laguna

Abandoned by her mother as a toddler and only occasionally visited by her volatile, secretive father, Justine is raised by her Pop, an old man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop’s chooks and in The Choke, a place of staggering natural beauty that is both a source of peace and danger. The Choke is a claustrophobic novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power, guns and violence.

Read our review here


Martin Sharp: His Life and Times by Joyce Morgan

Martin Sharp’s art was as singular as his style. He blurred the boundaries of high art and low with images of Dylan, Hendrix and naked flower children that defined an era. Along the way the irreverent Australian was charged with obscenity and collaborated with Eric Clapton as he drew rock stars and reprobates into his world. In this richly told biography, Joyce Morgan captures the loneliness of a privileged childhood, the heady days of the underground magazine Oz as well as the exuberant creativity of Swinging London and beyond.


Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe

Sparked by the description of a ‘Malay trollope’ in W. Somerset Maugham’s story, ‘The Four Dutchmen’, Mirandi Riwoe’s award-winning novella tells of an Indonesian girl whose life is changed irrevocably when she moves from a small fishing village to work in the house of a Dutch merchant. There she finds both hardship and tenderness as her traditional past and colonial present collide.


Tracker by Alexis Wright

Tracker is a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker and entrepreneur Tracker Tilmouth, who died in Darwin in 2015 at the age of 62. The book is as much a testament to the powerful role played by storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life as it is to the legacy of an extraordinary man.

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The 2018 shortlist will be announced in March, with the winner to be revealed in April. Find out more about the Prize and this year’s longlisted books (including the full judges' report) here.

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Terra Nullius

Terra Nullius

Claire G. Coleman

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