Young female writers have dominated this year’s Stella Prize short-list. The shortlist for the women only prize includes three first time novelists, Maxine Beneba Clarke for Foreign Soil, Emily Bitto for The Strays and Ellen van Neerven for Heat and Light.
The remaining three finalists are The Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally, The Golden Age by Joan London and The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna.
Surprise exclusions from the list include accomplished novelist Helen Garner, who was long-listed for her true crime novel, This House of Grief.
The Stella Prize was established in 2013 by publisher Aviva Tuffeld because she was tired of men dominating literary prizes and the general boys club feel of the novel writing world.
Tuffeld is impressed with this year’s entrants,
“We are thrilled with the strength and diversity of the 2015 Stella Prize shortlist. These six remarkable books explore themes of identity, family, displacement and belonging, with distinctly Australian resonances. Three of the books are debut works, which speaks to the talent of Australian women writers, even those just beginning their careers as authors. We are immensely grateful for the determination and rigour of our judging panel, who selected these six excellent, original and engaging books,” she said in a statement.
This year’s Stella Prize judges are critic and writer Kerryn Goldsworthy (chair); journalist and broadcaster Caroline Baum; writer and lecturer Tony Birch; singer–songwriter Sarah Blasko; and acclaimed author Melissa Lucashenko.
The winner will be announced in Melbourne on April 21 and the prize money is $50, 000. Each finalist will receive prize money of $2000, courtesy of the Nelson Meers Foundation.
The first Stella Prize was awarded to Carrie Tiffany for Mateship with Birds and last year’s winner was Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.