This $20,000 prize encourages artists and writers of fiction, poetry and essays to be part of setting a new agenda for Australia. Winning entries will be published in a special Fair Australia supplement in Overland 225, to be launched in Melbourne in early December. Entry is free.
A ‘good caricature, like every work of art,’ said the Italian Baroque painter, Annibale Carracci, ‘is more true to life than reality.’ This is why, I think, Bill Leak’s cartoons are so often failures. Like several pundits that take up column inches at the Australian these days, his views are so out of touch with the majority of the population that they can – in moments of ideologically charged rage – seem almost deranged.
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.
Under the strict guidance of Australian Border Force, occupants of MITA – more commonly known as Broadmeadows Detention Centre – have been segregated. Single men, single women and families, and ASIO detainees have all been placed in separate, locked compounds and are unable to socialise or move freely through the facility.