Drum roll please…..and the winner is The Strays by Emily Bitto! 

The 2015 Stella Prize was awarded in Melbourne tonight with the winner receiving $50,000, and each of the shortlisted authors received $2000, courtesy of the Nelson Meers Foundation. This is the first time a debut work has won the Stella Prize – what an amazing achievement for Emily Bitto! And, what a great prize this is, as not only does the Stella Prize pay tribute to the talented writers in Australia, it also ‘recognises and celebrates Australian women writers’ contribution to literature, it brings more readers to books by women, and prize money that buys a writer some measure of financial independence and thus time, that most undervalued yet necessary commodity for women, to focus on their writing.’ 

As commented here on WTML by Angela Long in her review of The Strays:Emily Bitto’s debut novel The Strays is an exploration of relationships; perspective and memory; isolation and belonging; separateness and community. As we follow the child’s eye recollections of Lily and her time spent with the Trentham family during the 1930’s, Bitto deftly layers each by careful pacing and her own direct and personal style.

Emily Bitto’s response after winning:

“It is an astounding, life-changing honour to be selected as the third recipient of the Stella Prize for my debut novel, The Strays. Even since being included on the Stella shortlist, I have noticed a clear difference in the kind of attention that my work has received. The Stella Prize is an award I feel very passionate about, and I am particularly honoured to have won a prize that has grown from a motive so dear to my own heart: the desire to redress gender inequality in the literary world. And to be recognised alongside such an astonishingly talented long- and shortlist, including writers I revere as a reader, is the greatest honour.

“As a debut novelist, I cannot even begin to quantify the benefits this award will bring. I am incredibly grateful to the Stella board, the judging panel, and the generous donors who have contributed the prize money. In its three years of existence, the Stella Prize has had a huge impact on the Australian literary landscape and has initiated a vital dialogue about gender within the public domain. As a female writer, I have benefited from this award before even finding myself on the longlist, and I am so grateful for its existence.”

Angela Long, my fabulous co-reviewer on Welcome to my Library, has read and reviewed all six books in the Stella Prize shortlist. Read her full review of the prize-winning novel The Strays (Affirm Press) HERE, and reviews of all the shortlisted books below. Thanks Angela for sharing your fabulous reviews here throughout the countdown to the Stella Prize. 

Read all of Angela’s reviews HERE.

The Stella Prize 2015 longlist:

For more information about the Stella Prize please see their website.

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