Books

All the incredible reads that made the 2024 Stella Prize longlist

From colonialism critiques to psychological thrillers.

The Stella Prize longlist for 2024 has just been announced during Adelaide Festival as part of Writers’ Week. The award, which recognises writing by Australian women, will see 12 books gunning for the $60,000 prize.

This year, the nominees who have been longlisted for the prestigious accolade include Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright (who is a previous recipient of the award) and Ali Cobby Eckermann’s She is the Earth.

The Prize was established back in 2012 and celebrates the best in fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Australian women and non-binary authors. Here’s the nominees that made it onto the Stella Prize longlist for 2024.

01

Praiseworthy

Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright’s Praiseworthy follows a small town dominated by a haze cloud, which is both an ecological catastrophe as well as the gathering of the ancestors. In the story, a ‘visionary’ seeks out donkeys as the solution to the global climate crisis and the economic dependency of the Aboriginal people.

Alexis Wright’s previous novel Tracker was also on the Stella Prize longlist and won the coveted award in 2018.

02

She is the Earth

Ali Cobby Eckermann

She is the Earth is a novel by celebrated poet, Ali Cobby Eckermann. In the novel, we follow Ali in a journey through grief and celebrate the healing power of Country.

03

Feast

Emily O’Grady

Emily O’Grady’s Feast unfolds over a mere days after a family reunites in the Scottish Highlands.

“While events take place over a few brief days, the story unearths complexities, secrets, derelictions and joys that span decades and occupy the seamy continuum between good and evil, dignity and contempt, life and death,” the Stella Prize judges noted.

04

Abandon Every Hope: Essays for the Dead

Hayley Singer

Using an array of poetic, lyric, academic and reflective writing styles, Hayley Singer tackles a thanatography (an attempt to write death). Abandon Every Hope takes a gruelling (and sometimes gruesome) look at the industrial meat complex, from slaughterhouses to cannibalism and beyond.

05

The Hummingbird Effect

Kate Mildenhall

Spanning 1933 to 2181, The Hummingbird Effect ambitiously follows the lives of women through the future of capitalism and climate change.

The Hummingbird Effect is speculative fiction at its finest: inventive, mind-expanding and wonderfully ambitious,” the Stella Prize judges noted.

06

Body Friend

Katherine Brabon

A 28-year-old woman leaves the hospital after an operation and begins swimming in a pool in Melbourne’s inner suburbs where she meets Frida, who uncannily mirrors her chronic illness struggles. She later meets another woman in the local park called Sylvia who sees her pain and encourages her to rest.

The narrator is torn between the dichotomy these two women and their opposing philosophies.

07

Edenglassie

Melissa Lukashenko

Melissa Lukashenko’s Edenglassie sees the world’s of Australia’s past and present collide, underpinned by an assessment of colonialism. In modern-day Brisbane, we follow Grannie Eddie, granddaughter and activist Winona, and Dr Johnny as they discuss the injustices of cross-cultural relations, the complex dynamics of blak community and the deep politics of Aboriginality.

“It is a storyline that centres blak perspectives and experiences in the fight for truth and identity justice, delivered with empathy and authentic characterisation,” the Stella Prize judges noted.

08

Graft

Maggie MacKellar

Maggie MacKellar’s Gaft is a gorgeously written reflection, set in Tasmania, which tackles motherhood, farming, nature and home.

09

Hospital

Sanya Rushdi

Hospital is based on real-life events. The book follows a Melbourne-based research student as she is diagnosed with her third episode of psychosis. After being shuffled from her home to hospital and places in between, she questions her perception of reality and sanity.

10

The Swift Dark Tide

Katia Ariel

What happens when, in the middle of a happy heterosexual marriage, a woman falls in love with another woman? Katia Ariel’s critically acclaimed novel The Swift Dark Tide explores this through vignettes.

11

West Girls

Laura Elizabeth Woollett

As an adolescent, Luna Lewis transformed from pudgy preteen to a beauty queen. Reinventing herself as ‘Luna Lu’, she took a ticket out of the most isolated city on earth. Now, as her once budding international modelling career quickly approaches its expiry date, Luna starts to grapple with what she’s sacrificed – and who she’s become – in her mission to transform herself.

Stella Prize longlist

11

The Anniversary

Stephanie Bishop

JB is a novelist whose star is on the rise. Her husband, Patrick, is an auteur film director – two decades her senior – whose star has well and truly peaked. When the couple take a cruise to reinvigorate their marriage, Patrick falls overboard to his death.

Suspicions rise when JB doesn’t seem to “grieve” correctly. Rather than weep and mourn, she flies to New York to accept a literary prize for a novel based on their relationship.

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