Alexis Wright’s Tracker wins the 2018 Stella Prize
Alexis Wright ( centre) with Giramondo editor Nick Tapper ( left) and publisher of the Giramondo book imprint Professor Ivor Indyk. Image credit: Connor Tomas O'Brien
Alexis Wright’s ground-breaking collective memoir Tracker, which tells the story of Aboriginal visionary, thinker and entrepreneur, Tracker Tilmouth, has won the 2018 Stella Prize – one of Australia’s most prestigious literary prizes.
The non-fiction work, published by Giramondo Publishing from the Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University, weaves and layers first-person stories told about and by Tracker Tilmouth. It embeds Aboriginal traditions of oral and collective storytelling to create a new way of writing memoir – described by judges as ‘giving many voices a part in the story’.
Whitlam Chair in the Writing and Society Research Centre and publisher of the Giramondo book imprint, Professor Ivor Indyk, says Tracker is a remarkable book for many reasons.
“The work has very important things to say about how Indigenous affairs are conducted in this country. Its innovative form brings the multiple voices of Aboriginal storytelling to bear on the art of Australian biography,” says Professor Indyk.
“It is also important to note that the researching and composing of Tracker was supported by an ARC Indigenous Discovery Grant while Alexis Wright was a Distinguished Fellow in the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University. I don’t think an ARC grant has ever had an outcome quite like this – the winning of one of Australia’s most prestigious literary prizes.”
Alexis Wright, who is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria, received the prize at an awards ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art last night.
“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,” says Alexis Wright.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in the Stella Prize for all of their great work in ensuring Australian women writers are not only where we should be, but have to be: at the forefront of this country’s literature.
“I also thank my publisher Ivor Indyk and editor Nick Tapper for their patience, thought and belief in this book. 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.”
In 2018, the Stella Prize marks its sixth year celebrating Australian women’s contributions to literature. Worth $50,000 and open to both fiction and nonfiction books, the Stella Prize has, in just a few years, become an influential and much-loved feature of the Australian literary calendar – significantly boosting book sales, raising author profiles and transforming the literary landscape.
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