We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2018 Stella Prize is Alexis Wright for her remarkable collective biography, Tracker.
The prize was awarded at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney on Thursday 12 April. Alexis receives $50,000 sponsored this year by National Australia Bank.
“This extraordinary, majestic book has been composed by Wright from interviews with family, friends, foes and Tilmouth himself. It is one man’s story told by many voices, almost operatic in scale. With a tight narrative structure, compelling real-life characters, the book sings with insight and Tracker’s characteristic humour. Wright has crafted an epic that is a truly rewarding read.”
The complete list of books entered for this year’s Stella Prize, showcasing as it does much of Australian women’s writing for 2017, reflects the sheer volume of high-quality books that are being published in Australia. What a cornucopia of literary riches! As judges we were impressed with the strength of submissions from so many fine writers. The value of the book as artefact was evident in the attention publishers and designers invest to make books attractive to read and to hold in our hands. Noticeable was the calibre of books from small publishers as is reflected in our longlist.
Many of the books entered look to the future and to the past in order to deepen our understanding of the present. The books submitted reflect the importance of imagination in all of our lives. It is also apparent that writers are increasingly conscious of whose story they are telling and who has a right to tell that story, and how to do so respectfully.
Our longlist challenges the reader to experience the pleasures of reading different forms of writing: speculative fiction, novella, memoir, biography, non-narrative nonfiction, history, short stories and work in translation. Included on the longlist are authors who have inverted genres through imaginative and subversive literary techniques and by incorporating traditional storytelling practices of mythology and magic realism. Reflected also is the power of contemporary Aboriginal storytelling as well as the truly international life experiences of our writers as we travel with characters through Indonesia, Iran and Sri Lanka. Other selected titles are books where science and art intersect to provoke solutions to the challenges facing society today.
Authors on our longlist also pay tribute to the legacy of some of our great thinkers, writers, artists and poets. The biographies and memoirs longlisted offer the reader, to paraphrase Bernadette Brennan, a way to more fully understand the ‘how’ of people such as Tracker Tilmouth, Helen Garner, Martin Sharp and Michael Dransfield. What came through powerfully in these books – and in others – is the struggle to create and the struggle to be true to oneself.
Significant and, oftentimes, critical issues are covered in the writings of our chosen authors. As judges we invite you to immerse yourself in this impressive and diverse list. As readers we acknowledge the great and generous gift our writers have given us.