Sofie Laguna

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The best of the year in books so far

PileofBooksIt’s half way through 2015 and time for a literary stock take of my year so far. The bare statistics underpinning six months of reading pleasure are: total number of books – 55 books consisting of 50 novels, three works of non-fiction, one book of poetry and one play. The gender breakdown was 33 women writers and 22 male, drawn from 13 countries, with the largest number coming from Australia and Great Britain. Below are my ten favourite books (so far), not in any particular order as just selecting the ten was hard enough. One of Us by Asne Seirstad, Waiting for the Past by Les Murray and The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna deserve a special mention because they would have been on the list if the Top 10 was actually a Top13.

  • Station 11 by Emily St John Mandel
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
  • River of Fire by Amitav Ghosh
  • The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
  • One Life by Kate Grenville
  • The Bees by Laline Paull
  • The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock
  • Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Full list:

Women dominate shortlist for Australia’s Miles Franklin Literary Award

Women writers dominate the short list for the Miles Franklin, one of Australia’s most prestigious awards which was announced tonight.  Only one man, Craig Sherborne, who wrote Tree Palace, made it through. The short list for the $60,000 prize which celebrates “Australian life in all its glories” is:

  • Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett, Penguin.
  • The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna, Allen & Unwin (reviewed here).
  • The Golden Age by Joan London, Random House.
  • After Darkness by Christine Piper, Allen & Unwin.
  • Tree Palace by Craig Sherborne Text Publishing.

The judges’ spokesman, Richard Neville,  said the shortlisted novels had “a rich cast of unforgettable characters, and themes ranging from childhood

Stella Prize shortlists six of the best in writing by Australian women

Journalist and author Christine Keneally is the only non-fiction author to make it onto the shortlist of Australia’s prestigious  The Stella Prize for women writers announced today. Her The Invisible History of the Human Race looks at the role of DNA in shaping us, and our world.

The other five finalists are:

  •  Joan London’s The Golden Age (Random House)
  • Emily Bitto’s  The Strays (Affirm Press)
  • 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)

In announcing the shortlist,  Stella Prize executive director Aviva Tuffield said: “These six remarkable books explore themes of identity, family, displacement and belonging, with distinctly Australian resonances.’’ The winner will be announced on Tuesday 21 April. Previous recipients of the prize are Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with Birds (2013) and Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka (2014).

Below is the Stella Award’s synopsis of each of the finalists.

Longlist for Australia’s Stella Prize celebrating women authors, is announced


Joan London’s poignant The Golden Age and The House of Grief, Helen Gardner’s harrowing reportage of a crime that shocked the world, are standouts on the longlist for Australia’s prestigious $50,000 Stella Prize, which celebrates women authors, and which was announced yesterday. The longlist for the Prize, which was first awarded in 2013, also includes three debut writers.

Full long list is:


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