“The Natural Way of Things is a novel of – and for – our times, explosive yet written with artful, incisive coolness. It parodies, with steely seriousness, the state of being visible and female in contemporary Western society. With an unflinching eye and audacious imagination, Charlotte Wood carries us from a nightmare of helplessness and despair to a fantasy of revenge and reckoning.”
The longlist for the 2016 Stella Prize demonstrates the current strength of Australian women’s narrative, featuring both highly accomplished new writers and many works that represent a culmination of the skills of established writers. Excellent writing generates a culture of reading and appreciation of literature that in turn stimulates further literary creativity, and 2016 will prove to be a good year for this process of collective inspiration in our literary ecology.
Many of the works on the longlist are set in the countryside, adding to a tradition in Australian literature that offers both idyllic and unsettling accounts of rural life. Women writers have, historically, contributed most powerfully to this tradition, and the rural fictions on the longlist remind us of the frailty of the natural world, the value of documenting the appearance of the landscape and the way that contradictory motivations can play out most visibly in isolated situations. Writing about childhood and adolescence is another Australian literary tradition that many of the longlisted works contribute to. Children in these books are watchful, alert to adult tensions that may have extreme consequences for them, and this watchfulness makes for compelling reading. Many explore women’s creativity in the form of storytelling, painting or pottery, taking us into proximity with art at its source. Now in its fourth year, the Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s literature at its most powerful and inventive.