Having read and reviewed each of the six shortlisted finalists, Sinéad Fogarty predicts the winner of the 2017 Stella Prize.
Great writing shifts life up a gear, turning Tangara train rides into rambling rabbit holes. Trips on the blue and white buses become tours of time travel. You may slowly sink into the crisp cream pages as if treading on fresh snow, or swoop through sentences, thundering towards the final full stop.
Indeed, it is an endless wonder that words, mere ink blots on a page, have the power to frolic or ferment in the feast of one’s mind. Ah, but that is the bellipotence of a good book.
Inaugurated in 2013, the Stella Prize is a celebration of effervescent literature written by Australian women. The $50,000 prize will reward the most outstanding work of nonfiction or fiction published in 2016.
“The winning book will be excellent, original and engaging,” reads the Stella Prize Guidelines.
A Review of the Reviews
The Hate Race
Maxine Beneba Clarke’s searing story of schoolyard bullies, with a backbeat of current racism, has a narrative voice which continues to whisper weeks after reading.
Dying: A Memoir
Cory Taylor’s book reminds one of the frailty of life, yet does not sulk in sadness. Her pragmatic thoughts on her decade facing death are an insightful ode to life itself.
Between a Wolf and a Dog
Georgia Blain’s novel was the only book I read a second time, soaking into the lusciously detailed lives of one family over one day. It felt like binging on a much-loved television series, though certainly not of the trashy kind. I must also note with sadness that Blain passed away in December 2016, a fact I was unaware of when reading and reviewing her novel. This book was her 10th novel, including a short story collection, which I’ll most certainly be reading in the near future.
An Isolated Incident
Emily Maguire’s book was an intriguing blend of crime thriller with a healthy dose of feminism. The distinct voice of narrator Chris Rogers is so authentic you’d recognise it if she called you up from an unknown number.
Poum and Alexandre
Catherine de Saint Phalle’s novel was, I suppose, my only negative review. Her resoundingly elegant prose was repeatedly interrupted by a glockenspiel of gobbledegook – a phrase I find more exciting than her book. I think her memoir is a little like coriander – I’m sure some people will love it, but to me, it tastes a bit like soap.
And so, to the winner …
The Museum of Modern Love
Heather Rose’s fresh, strange, wacky and wonderful novel is piping with excellence, wholly original, and altogether engaging. An art-enthused visitant is among the many kicking characters around protagonist Arky Levin, a struggling father and musician. The novel, set amid the hulking atlas of New Yorkers visiting Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” exhibition, is an education as well as an a newfangled fidget between fiction and reality, man and myth, art and life. A deserving winner in my eyes.
The winner will be announced today at 6pm. – Sinéad Fogarty