Congratulations to Australian writer Carrie Tiffany, who won the inaugural Stella Prize for her novel Mateship with Birds in Sydney yesterday.
She gets $50,000 for her efforts, although I believe she has decided to distribute $10,000 of her prize-money to the five other writers on the shortlist — Courtney Collins, Michelle de Kretser, Lisa Jacobson, Cate Kennedy and Margo Lanagan — which is a rather lovely and generous thing to do.
In a media release issued after the award was announced, the chair of the Stella Prize judges, Kerryn Goldsworthy, said: "Mateship with Birds is a deceptively gentle-looking novel whose calm surface belies its many sharp and frank observations about the world. Set in country Victoria in the 1950s, it follows the fortunes of two people whose loneliness is offset by the many active strands of their daily lives: Harry, a farmer whose wife has left him for somebody else; and Betty, an aged-care nurse whose two children have no visible father.
"Tiffany uses the two main characters’ interactions with each other and with a small supporting cast to show the intricate interrelations not only between people, but also between human life and the natural world. There’s complex interdependence among species, and human behaviour is reflected in even the smallest, most attentively observed details of the lives of animals and birds."
You can read my review of the book here.