Wright wins 2018 Stella Prize for ‘Tracker’
Alexis Wright has won the 2018 Stella Prize, worth $50,000, for her ‘collective memoir’ Tracker (Giramondo).
Judging panel chair Fiona Stager said the winning book—a biography of Aboriginal leader, thinker and entrepreneur Tracker Tilmouth that incorporates interviews with family, friends, foes and Tilmouth himself—is an ‘extraordinary, majestic book’. ‘It is one man’s story told by many voices, almost operatic in scale. With a tight narrative structure, compelling real-life characters, the book sings with insight and Tracker’s characteristic humour. Wright has crafted an epic that is a truly rewarding read,’ said Stager.
Wright said she was ‘totally amazed and shocked’ by the win, and acknowledged the ‘great honour that has been bestowed by the Stella Prize on my book Tracker’. ‘I want to express my gratitude to my friend Tracker Tilmouth, the great Eastern Arrernte man of Central Australia, and visionary leader in the Aboriginal world,’ said Wright. ‘I thought very deeply about how to develop this book about him by using our own storytelling principle of consensus, to give everyone the opportunity to tell their part in the story. I was not even sure if it would work as the manuscript of stories grew, but I pushed on for the six years it took to create Tracker,’ she said.
‘I worked on this book because I felt that Australia needed to hear what Tracker had to say. It is important. It involves the future of Aboriginal people and our culture,’ added Wright. ‘I thank the judges for ensuring that Tracker’s story will be heard and appreciated by many more people.’ Read the full transcript of her acceptance speech here.
Wright’s novel was chosen from a shortlist of six by a judging panel chaired by Stager and which also included author Julie Koh, editor and poet Ellen van Neerven, writer and critic James Ley, and writer, editor and publisher Louise Swinn.
The Stella Prize is presented for the best work of fiction or nonfiction by an Australian woman published in the previous calendar year. The prize is named after Miles Franklin, whose first name was Stella, and was inspired by the UK’s Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction).
As previously reported by Books+Publishing, Heather Rose won the 2017 Stella Prize for her novel The Museum of Modern Love (A&U).
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