At very least, the choice of historical inspiration is suspect. Brutal moments from the past are overrepresented on television: there’s a Manson murders show, a Hatfields-and-McCoys show, and angry history-inspired action-sex dramas set in a lot of different time periods. If an alien tried to understand human history based on our cable shows, they would probably think we have spent most of our time on top of this planet trying to hurt one another. We do not seem like a very cool species.
Yet in Wood’s novel we get the feeling that her dystopian future is not so far away, that the brutality that is levelled at the women in the book is right around the corner. So when I finished reading Wood’s novel, I was relieved and grateful that it had won The Stella. And I wondered if a book like this would have won a prestigious national prize in Australia before Stella was established.