The Stella Prize shortlist 2021

Congratulations to the six authors shortlisted for this year’s Stella Prize. This $50,000 prize is awarded for the best work of literature, fiction or non-fiction, published in 2020 by an Australian woman.

Chair of the 2021 Stella Prize judging panel, Zoya Patel, says: ‘The 2021 Stella Prize shortlist truly demonstrates the immensity of talent in Australian women and non-binary authors. This shortlist is varied, diverse, and reflects on urgent themes across the gamut of human experience. These books explore grief, loss, joy, hope, and anger. They feature strong and imposing women characters and authorial voices, and as diverse as they are in style, tone and topic, they are united by their expression of the Stella criteria of original, excellent and engaging.’

Below are the six shortlisted books for the 2021 Stella Prize.


Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs

What can whales reveal about our world today? When writer Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beachfront in Australia, she began to wonder how the lives of whales shed light on the condition of our seas. Fathoms blends natural history, philosophy, and science to explore: How do whales experience ecological change? Will our connection to these storied animals be transformed by technology? What can observing whales teach us about the complexity, splendour, and fragility of life?


Revenge: Murder in Three Parts by S.L. Lim

A family favour their son over their daughter. Shan attends university before making his fortune in Australia while Yannie must find menial employment and care for her ageing parents. After her mother’s death, Yannie travels to Sydney to become enmeshed in her psychopathic brother’s new life, which she seeks to undermine from within …

This is a novel that rages against capitalism, hetero-supremacy, mothers, fathers, families - the whole damn thing. It’s about what happens when you want to make art but are born in the wrong time and place.


The Animals in that Country by Laura Jean McKay

Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals – first mammals, then birds and insects, too.

Bold, exhilarating, and wholly original, The Animals in that Country asks what would happen, for better or worse, if we finally understood what animals were saying.


Witness by Louise Milligan

A masterful and deeply troubling expose, Witness is the culmination of almost five years' work for award-winning investigative journalist Louise Milligan. Charting the experiences of those who have the courage to come forward and face their abusers in high-profile child abuse and sexual assault cases, Milligan was profoundly shocked by what she found. Witness is a call for change. Milligan exposes the devastating reality of the Australian legal system where truth is never guaranteed and, for victims, justice is often elusive. And even when they get justice, the process is so bruising, they wish they had never tried.


Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe

Family circumstances force siblings Ying and Lai Yue to flee their home in China to seek their fortunes in Australia. Life on the gold fields is hard, and they soon abandon the diggings and head to nearby Maytown.

Once there, Lai Yue finds a job as a carrier on an overland expedition, while Ying finds work in a local store and strikes up a friendship with Meriem, a young white woman with her own troubled past. When a serious crime is committed, suspicion falls on all those who are considered outsiders.


The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

In 1720s Scotland, a priest and his son get lost in the forest, transporting a witch to the coast to stop her from being killed by the village. In the sad, slow years after the Second World War, Ruth finds herself the replacement wife to a recent widower and stepmother to his two young boys, installed in a huge house by the sea and haunted by those who have come before.

Fifty years later, Viv is cataloguing the valuables left in her dead grandmother’s seaside home, when she uncovers long-held secrets of the great house. Three women, hundreds of years apart, slip into each other’s lives in a novel of darkness, violence and madness.

If you would like to read the full Stella Prize 2021 shortlist you can $45 off the complete price when purchasing all six books in the same transaction. This offer is available online, and in our shops.

When shopping online, simply add all six books to your cart and the discount will be applied automatically during checkout.

The winner of the 2021 Stella Prize will be announced in a special online evening of storytelling and ideas on Thursday 22 April from 7pm AEST.

Fathoms: The World in the Whale

Fathoms: The World in the Whale

Rebecca Giggs

$35.00Buy now

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