La Trobe PhD student wins Stella Prize

Novelist Carrie TiffanyAnother of the six shortlisted novelists, Lisa Jacobson, was honoured for her verse novel, The Sunlit Zone, which arose from the PhD in creative writing that she completed at La Trobe in 2009.

‘La Trobe University is extremely proud to congratulate Carrie on winning the Stella Prize in its first year,’ says Professor Tim Murray, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

‘The success of both Carrie and Lisa in this important literary award is a reflection on the strength of the English Program at La Trobe.’

Writers from La Trobe English have been awarded a slew of prizes over the last eighteen months. Paddy O’Reilly's The Fine Colour of Rust is on the shortlist for the ALS Gold Medal this year. Adrian Hyland’s Kinglake-350 was shortlisted last year for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the Age Book of the Year Awards, and Kelly Gardiner’s Act of Faith was longlisted for the 2012 Gold Inky Award and highly commended in the Australian Association of Authors Barbara Jefferis Award.

In a notable departure from the traditional prize ceremonies at literary awards, Ms Tiffany invited her fellow shortlisted novelists onto the stage when she accepted her award, and donated $10,000 of her prize money to be divided amongst the other five novelists.

‘When you give writers money, you give them time,’ Ms Tiffany said on Radio National yesterday, explaining her reason for donating some of the prize money.

Dr Alexis Harley, Lecturer in English at La Trobe’s Melbourne campus, says that Ms Tiffany’s achievement is part of a milestone in Australian literature. 

‘The establishment of the Stella Prize to recognise women’s writing in Australia addresses a bias not only in our nation’s literary values, but in our idea of what Australianness is.  The dominant myth of Australianness is unrelentingly masculine. It’s bushrangers, goldminers, Anzacs,’ says Dr Harley.

Mateship-with-Birds-250-wide‘Thus the Stella Prize helps bring alternative literary voices to the public eye and ultimately, I hope, will help to enlarge our ideas about what it is to be Australian.’

Ms Tiffany’s PhD supervisors are Dr Catherine Padmore and Associate Professor Sue Martin, while Ms Jacobson was supervised by Dr Padmore, Professor Richard Freadman and Associate Professor Alison Ravenscroft.

Ms Tiffany’s Mateship with Birds is her second novel, and is set in 1950s rural Australia. Her PhD supervisor, Dr Padmore, describes it as ‘dealing beautifully with small and intimate moments, and finding the great significance in those moments.’

Mateship with Birds has also been shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Melbourne Prize for Literature Best Writing Award. It has been longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Women’s Prize for Fiction.



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