Tracker Wins Stella Prize

With a history of celebrating the fine art of telling powerful Australian stories by Australian female writers, this year the Stella Prize has been awarded to Alexis Wright for Tracker, her biography of Aboriginal leader, thinker and entrepreneur, Tracker Tilmouth.

Fiona Stager, Chair of the 2018 Stella judging panel, said of the winning book:

“This extraordinary, majestic book has been composed by Wright from interviews with family, friends, foes and Tilmouth himself. It is one man’s story told by many voices, almost operatic in scale. With a tight narrative structure, compelling real-life characters, the book sings with insight and Tracker’s characteristic humour. Wright has crafted an epic that is a truly rewarding read.”

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her books include Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in Tennant Creek, and the novels Plains of Promise, The Swan Book and Carpentaria, which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Victorian and Queensland Premiers’ Literary Awards, and the ALS Gold Medal, and was published in the US, UK, China, Italy, France, Spain and Poland.

Currently the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne, said of her win: “I am totally amazed and shocked, but I deeply acknowledge the great honour that has been bestowed by the Stella Prize on my book Tracker.

“I want to express my gratitude to my friend Tracker Tilmouth, the great Eastern Arrernte man of Central Australia, and visionary leader in the Aboriginal world. I thought very deeply about how to develop this book about him by using our own storytelling principle of consensus, to give everyone the opportunity to tell their part in the story. I was not even sure if it would work as the manuscript of stories grew, but I pushed on for the six years it took to create Tracker.

“I worked on this book because I felt that Australia needed to hear what Tracker had to say. It is important. It involves the future of Aboriginal people and our culture.

“All Australian writers and their readers should be grateful that the Stella Prize has created enormous opportunities for women writers. I thank the judges for ensuring that Tracker’s story will be heard and appreciated by many more people.”

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