S. L. Lim is the first non-binary author to be nominated for the Stella Prize

The Stella Prize has announced the six titles that will be on their shortlist for this year’s award. Among the acclaimed novels is Revenge which is written by author S.L. Lim, it’s the first time a non-binary author has been included in the nominations.

The Stella Prize is a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing, they describe themselves as an organisation that champions cultural change.

Earlier in the month the long-list for the award highlighted 12 books that were in contention for the prestigious award, now that list has been shorted to just six, with the final winner to be announced on 22nd April in a special online evening of storytelling and ideas.

The judges of the award said the books selected for 2021 are incredibly diverse, describing the works selected as books explore aspects of human nature and the natural world, as well as our place within the natural world; untold histories and stories; systemic flaws within the Australian justice system; tales of retribution; experiences unique to women and queer women; philosophical musings and scientific subject matter; as well as the role of family, community and inheritance.

The six books on the short list are;

  • Fathoms: the world in the whale by Rebecca Giggs (Scribe Publications)
  • Revenge: Murder in Three Parts by S.L. Lim (Transit Lounge)
  • The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay (Scribe Publications)
  • Witness by Louise Milligan (Hachette Australia)
  • Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe (University of Queensland Press)
  • The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld (Penguin Random House)

Executive Director of Stella, Jaclyn Booton, said the authors on this year’s shortlist had used both their talent and imagination to make their mark.

“The 2021 Stella Prize shortlist exemplifies the talent, imagination, and dedication of the six authors; I congratulate them and thank them for these outstanding books. As recent events have shown, there’s significant cultural change needed in this country to ensure women’s voices are heard. Books can be a tool for positive social change – I encourage everyone to seek out these books and delve into the stories and perspectives within.” Booton said.

Each shortlisted author will receive $2,000, while the winner of the 2021 Stella Prize will receive $50,000 thanks to the support of the Wilson Foundation.

S.L Lim has downplayed the significance of a non-binary author making the list for the first time. Earlier this month they told The Guardian that the competition’s decision in 2019 to change their rules and open the award to non-binary was simply a necessary correction of a harmful prejudice.

The awards which were established in 2012 to promote Australian women’s writing take their name from author Miles Franklin, whose full name was Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin.  Franklin found success with her 1901 book My Brilliant Career. When she died in 1954 Franklin bequeathed her estate to create the Miles Franklin Literary Award – which celebrated Australian authors.

When it was noted that women were under-represented in literary awards, the Stella Awards were created to highlight female authors. In recent years however, female authors have dominated the Miles Franklin Award, eight of the last nine winners have been female.

OIP Staff


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