Novelist and academic Emily Bitto has won Australia’s prestigious $A50,000 Stella Prize 2015 with The Strays about a young girl growing up amongst a bohemian family of artists in Victoria. It is the first time a debut novel has taken out the award.
In an interview with Women’s Agenda Bitto said that the prize, which is only open to women authors, was particularly important: “The numbers tell the story – women are still considerably less likely to win prizes, less likely to get reviewed and less likely to get the financial support that male writers get,” she said. “The Stella Prize is such as important intervention and it is such a great way of redressing that disadvantaged, and also drawing attention to that disadvantage. It’s hard enough to make a go of it as a debut writer, but knowing you face those roadblocks as a woman as well can be very disheartening, so having a prize like this is so important.”
The Strays, which is published by small house Affirm Press, beat Joan London’s The Golden Age (Random House), Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and Light (UQP), Sofie Laguna’s The Eye of the Sheep (Allen & Unwin), Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil (Hachette) and Christine Kenneally’s The Invisible History of the Human Race (Random House).