The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt

I’ve been blogging for more than a decade (oops, forgot the blog’s tenth birthday) and up until this year, I have not reviewed any poetry. Because I don’t read poetry. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s more that I’m not in the habit of seeking it out. However, inclusion of poetry in the Stella Prize meant reading Big Beautiful Female Theory earlier in the year, and more recently, The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt (which incidentally, won the 2023 Stella Prize).

The titular poem comes midway in the collection and, despite what you might expect (and what the image on the cover suggests), the poem is about her father’s car  –

A folly he bought without test-driving,
vintage 1980 XJ, a rebellion against his tremor… Continue reading

Stella Prize 2023 Shortlist – Hydra by Adriane Howell

Hydra by Adriane Howell is true to its title – a beast that is hard to contain. It’s loosely Australian gothic, and tells of Anja, a young, ambitious antiquarian, whose specialty is mid-century furniture.

We learn a few important things about Anja early in the story – her rival at the auction house where she works is Fran; her marriage ended on a recent trip to Greece; and she is intent on classifying objects based on emotional response (as opposed to origin or period).

Teapots, I decided, were connected to storytelling, belonging to the Department of Once Upon a Time. Continue reading

Stella Prize 2023 Longlist Reading – Iris by Fiona Kelly McGregor

In the first few years of the Stella Prize, I put my head down in March and ripped through the entire longlist. But over the last year or two, my enthusiasm has waned, and this year I’ve been distracted by Reading Ireland Month and books on the Women’s Prize longlist, so my Stella reading has been patchy.

I selected Iris by Fiona Kelly McGregor after reading Lisa’s glowing review. Continue reading

Stella Prize 2023 Longlist Reading – Big Beautiful Female Theory by Eloise Grills

Defying genres, Big Beautiful Female Theory by Eloise Grills is part graphic memoir, part essay collection, part poetry, part comic book. The theme that runs through the illustrations and text focuses on self-image and the female body and its depiction in art and popular culture. Continue reading

So I’ve made a really long list for the purposes of 2023 Stella longlist

This is the list I’ll be making my 2023 Stella Prize longlist predictions from. Sing out if there are errors (for example the book was not actually published in 2022) or if there are books I’ve missed – my compilation of this list involves absolutely no quality control.

The longlist will be announced on March 2, 2023. Continue reading