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6 Great Reads from the 2016 Stella Prize Shortlist

Now that International Women’s Day has passed and were officially in the thick of the month dedicated to the ladies, it’s time to drop the banners and balloons and get down to the real celebration (at least in our minds): reading. To kick off the reading binge, the Stella Prize has provided us with an exceptional list of six novels.

For anyone unfamiliar with the organization, the Stella Prize is an award given to Australian female fiction and nonfiction authors. Troubled by an underrepresentation of women authors as literary prize winners, the Stella Prize showcases amazing female talent and prides itself as a champion for diversity and a starting point for cultural change to gain traction.

The winner will be announced in April, but in the meantime the Stella Prize is keeping us busy with the short list, which features six books by six phenomenal authors. Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

 

Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight

Six bedrooms chronicles the unsteady tread of youth into adulthood. The coming-of-age novel grapples with sex, cancer, risk, and wreckage; but it also takes pause, slows to a still, and gazes wonderingly at hot summer afternoons, the adrenaline of stealing booze from a parent’s liquor cabinet, the sweet and urgent longing for love in youth, and all the softer moments that are woven into the more tumultuous passage into adulthood.

 

Hope Farm by Peggy Frew

Hope Farm is Frew’s second novel, and an exceptional story about life in a commune and the thrusting forces that propel protagonist Silver into the lethal world of adulthood. The novel offers stunning writing and a poetic exploration of fleeting childhood, the tedious balance of truth and secrecy, and the world that emerges in the cracks between the two.

 

A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories by Elizabeth Harrower

In this archive of short fiction, Harrower writes stories ranging from satire to friendship, all of which are grafted on a deep understanding of human behavior and her unadorned vision of life. Harrower has been regarded as a storytelling master, and this short collection provides a showcase of her fine-tuned wit and insight.

 

The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau

In a landscape altered by climate change, mining, and deforestation, the Muller family watches another treasure slip from their hands as the bees in their town begin to disappear. This transparency, however, does not transcend to the community, which is filled with hidden riddles and long-kept secrets. As the narrative progresses, the book deals with distant and mysterious family relations, the unexplained appearance of a car wreck, and a body whose identity houses the town’s long kept secrets.

 

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Charlotte Wood tells the provocative, fearless, and unflinching story of women in captivity, detained for sexual “crimes” with a man that marks each captive’s past. The harrowing tale of their confinement, mistreatment, and eventual freedom is a powerful look at ambiguities, power, betrayal, and the intermittent moments of grace.

 

Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright

In a collection of ten essays, Wright describes her chronic battle with eating disorders. Skimming over her life from school, to treatment centers in Sydney, to being a journalist in Sri Lanka, Wright provides an account of her illness in her highly regarded poetic style. Hinging on self-will and the elusive empowerment hunger creates for her, an ongoing tug of war between deceptions and disillusions propels the narrative from beginning.

Featured image courtesy of The Guardian