Stella Prize 2021 Longlist Thoughts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And of course, that is Stella Prize season. If you don’t know, The Stella Prize is a literary award for female and non-binary writers in Australia. You can check out their website here if you’d like to know more. I also co-host a book club over on Instagram called the Stella Project in which we read the books nominated for the prize throughout the year.

But today I’m here to share with you all my preliminary thoughts on each of the longlisted books. The longlist was announced on the 4th but I wanted a few days to get this together and here we are. So I’m going to share with you what I’ve already read, what I haven’t, what I’m most excited for and etc. etc. so let’s get into it.

What I Have Read

Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe

I almost squealed when this one was announced as having made the list. I was a huge fan of Riwoe’s first book, The Fish Girl, which was almost nominated for the Prize a few years back so I read this one when it came out last year. I do have to admit that I was originally a little disappointed in it, but I think that had to do with the way the book was marketed. It gives away a huge plot point on the back which doesn’t actually happen until very close to the end of the book. So I spent the entire time waiting for this big thing to happen and then was confused when it didn’t. I have decided to reread this one for the longlist, mostly because I am running the discussion on this one and I have the worst memory so coming up with questions would be impossible without doing that. I think I’ll appreciate it a lot more this time because I know what to actually expect this time. This is the first one I’ll be picking up as the discussion will be going up in just a couple of days, on the 10th.

Blueberries by Ellena Savage

I have marked this one on Goodreads as read, but I don’t remember how much of it I have actually read. This was one of my most anticipated books of last year, but when I did actually pick it up I found it a real struggle. This is a mix of non-fiction; essays, journalism, memoir etc. and I found that difficult. It’s also a very, very heavy book—the topics are as diverse as the styles but a lot of it felt like a real punch in the gut, but it’s also a very intelligent book and sometimes, I think, it went a little over my head. I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading this—I know people who have read this absolutely loved it for the most part, but I do think it is a book you have to read in the right frame of mind. I may decide to reread it if I get time during this Prize season, but in all honesty, it is the last one on my list. I do still own my copy so I can pick it up after our reading is done if I decide to.

New-To-Me Books

The Animals In That Country by Laura Jean McKay

That’s right, I’ve read a total of one and possibly half? I definitely have a lot of reading ahead of me for the next few weeks, but I’ve done it before and I’m determined to do it again. I thought I’d start by mentioning The Animals In That Country because its the only unread one I currently own. Admittedly, this is one that I’ll be reading further along in my schedule as my co-host Em is running the discussion for this one—it actually went up yesterday if you’re interested. I have heard some amazing things about this one and a lot of people were hoping it would make the longlist, so crossing my fingers that I end up enjoying it. I had been putting it off because it’s a book about a pandemic and that wasn’t really something I was reading too much about even before 2020 happened, but I’m happy that I’ll have a little push to read it now.

Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath Moore

I’m so excited that we have this one on here as it’s the only YA to make the longlist this year. This one was already on my radar but I just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. This will be one of the first ones I pick up.

Witness by Louise Milligan

I’ve been seeing this one around a lot lately due to everything that is happening here at the moment. If you’re not aware, recently a sexual assault case was bought against a man in parliament—there are a couple of news articles here including one about a speech Grace Tame made and further allegations made about the man. I’m a little way down the library list for this one, but hoping I’ll be able to get to it.

A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu

This has been everywhere for months, so I guess I’m finally reading it now. Again, this is one I’ll be picking up very soon as my eBook hold is coming in today. I’ll be sharing my thoughts about this one shortly.

Revenge, Murder In Three Parts by S.L Lim

This was the only one on the longlist that I wasn’t aware of beforehand. I’ve been told this is a gripping thriller along with some really interesting character study stuff included. It’s my usual type of book by any means, but I’m definitely going to give it a go.

Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson

This is another one I’ve been seeing a lot about recently. I honestly don’t know much about it but people seemed really excited to see it on the longlist so I’m excited to get to it.

Smart Ovens For Lonely People by Elizabeth Tan

I had a feeling this one would make the list as it’s been getting a fair amount of buzz lately too. I’m pretty sure this is the only short story collection on the list this year, which honestly, I’m happy about. I’m not much a short story reader, so I’m not too stressed about just having the one this year.

Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs

This is definitely one of the ones I’m most excited about on the list. I’ve been hearing amazing things about it since it was released and I’m just super excited. It was also one of my goals this year to read more about animals, nature etc. so this sort of knocks out two birds with the one stone.

The Wandering by Intan Paramaditha

This should be a really exciting one because it’s actually translated, making this the second translated book to ever make the list. It’s also being described as one of the most structurally interesting books on the list as it’s apparently a short of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style books.

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

And finally, our last one is The Bass Rock. I’ve seen this one around quite a bit since it was released—I know it was one that was published in at least the UK as well, if not elsewhere too. I’m not too sure what this one is about but we’ll find out, won’t we?

And there we are. If you’ve been following me a while you might know that I usually do mini-reviews of each book throughout the sort of Prize season. As this year that period is a bit smaller, I might have some of these reviews coming out after the Prize has been awarded but I’ll still be sharing my thoughts as I read through the list. But for now, I’d love to hear if you read along with the Prize or if you’re interested in picking up any of these books.

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