11 April 2018

2018 Stella Prize Award Night: Chair of Judges Fiona Stager announces the winner

Judging a literary prize is a privilege, an opportunity, a joy and a challenge. Our task was made easier through the extraordinary support of the Stella staff: Veronica Sullivan, Fiona Dunne and Megan Quinlan.

The notion of sitting in judgement on the work of authors who have sacrificed, endured and sweated over their craft was a responsibility that we judges took most seriously. On behalf of my fellow judges I would like to express our deep gratitude to all the 170 authors who submitted their work for this year’s Stella Prize. It has been an honour.

Overseeing us all was the gentle, confident and inspiring Aviva Tuffield. Aviva who co-founded the Stella Prize in 2011 and is a former chair of the board, has been leading the prize’s operations as executive director since 2014, while working concurrently as a publisher. Aviva will step down from her role at the end of this month. Her great contribution to Australia’s literary culture through the establishment of the Stella Prize and its broad and growing role in nurturing and fostering the work of Australian women writers through the Stella Count, Stella Sparks and the Stella Schools Program must be acknowledged. On behalf of us all thank you, Aviva.

In a year when women’s voices are demanding to be heard, the 2018 Stella Prize shortlist showcased the power and diversity of writing by women in Australia. The determination required to create change – and the political necessity of telling our own stories – shines through in the fiction and nonfiction of this year’s list. We have been heartened by the willingness of journalists, critics and readers to engage with our longlist and shortlist.

The winner of this year’s Stella Prize in a strange way chose itself.

The winning book is unique in the history of Australian letters and it artfully fulfils all the Stella Prize’s criteria: it is excellent, engaging and original. We invite all readers to immerse themselves in a history, a landscape, a time and a story that is heartbreaking, poignant and humorous.

I’d like to announce that the winner of the 2018 Stella Prize is Alexis Wright for her book Tracker.

In awarding the 2018 Stella Prize to Alexis Wright for Tracker the judges wish to acknowledge the craft of the author and pay tribute to the richness of the memories shared by the many people she interviewed. This book will enrich and change the understanding of readers. A man like Tracker Tilmouth could change our world. It takes a writer like Alexis Wright to change the world of Australian letters.

Congratulations Alexis Wright.

– Fiona Stager, Chair of the 2018 Stella Prize judging panel, 12 April 2018

Read Alexis Wright’s acceptance speech here.

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