“Mateship with Birds is a triumph of noticing and, having noticed, of carefully, meticulously assembling the things that have been noticed into a novel that shows, on almost every page, not just an eye for detail, but also a conviction that every detail is in some way connected and that the connections have meaning. The book juxtaposes, in unexpected and surprising ways, its observations about love, sex, character, instinct and the natural world to create an original, tender, frank and funny version of the oldest story in the world: how a man and a woman get together.”
‘The shortlist features a wide variety of subject matter and genre: the list contains a collection of short stories and a verse novel; it includes fantasy, speculative fiction, two historical novels and one that has been described as Australian Gothic. There are stories set in the past, the present and the future; there are stories set in both urban and rural Australia as well as in other countries and in imagined places.
We noticed a strong common theme in several of the books on the shortlist: Sea Hearts, The Sunlit Zone and Mateship with Birds all explore in thoughtful, imaginative and unexpected ways the relationships and the boundaries between the human and the non-human, showing where those boundaries are weakest and might be broken down.
In choosing a shortlist of six books from the longlist of twelve, the judges concentrated on picking the six we thought were the best books regardless of form, genre and subject matter. While no non-fiction book appears on the shortlist, we were glad to have been able to longlist three, chosen from a large field of entries in which fiction outnumbered non-fiction by almost four to one.
The consistent high quality of the shortlist makes every book listed a serious contender for the prize.’
– Kerryn Goldsworthy, chair of the 2013 Stella Prize judging panel