University of Southern Queensland Australian Short Story Collection - Steele Rudd Award shortlist

Six Bedrooms cover

Six Bedrooms

Tegan Bennett Daylight

Penguin Random House

About the book

Six Bedrooms is about growing up; about discovering sex; and about coming of age. Full of glorious angst, embarrassment and small achievements, Tegan Bennett-Daylight’s powerful collection captures the dangerous, tilting terrain of becoming adult.

About the author

Tegan Bennett Daylight is a teacher, critic and fiction writer. She is the author of several books for children and teenagers, and the novels Bombora, What Falls Away and Safety. She lives in the Blue Mountains with her husband and two children.

Judges' Comments

Subtle, gorgeous writing. The stories gently nudge a reader towards a more nuanced understanding of young women. The characterisations are beautiful. There is an intimacy here that rings true and resonates. This book is appropriately awkward, bewildering, funny, touching and sexy.

Read more

An Astronaut’s Life cover

An Astronaut’s Life

Sonja Dechian

Text Publishing

About the book

In sparkling prose, Sonja Dechian’s profound, moving and wry stories speak to our deepest yearning for connection and the inevitability of our isolation. From a terrorist cell of cyber-bullying victims working to annihilate the digital memory of their humiliation to a pandemic that leaves grieving parents battling for the media spotlight, these affecting tales invite us to examine our inability to control the world around us—and our own desires. An Astronaut’s Life is a beautiful debut from an intelligent new voice in Australian writing.

About the author

Sonja Dechian is a writer, editor, and radio and TV producer. She has co-edited two collections of stories about the Australian refugee experience, Dark Dreams and No Place Like Home.

Judges' Comments

Fascinating questions are posed in this dexterous collection. These stories are bold, experimenting with ideas, leaping playfully from thought to thought. However, the ideas never really overwhelm the stories. There is a strong sense of empathy in this work. The internal lives of each character is fascinating and compelling. The stories remain consistently strong over a wide range of imaginative ideas.

Read more

A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories cover

A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories

Elizabeth Harrower

Text Publishing

About the book

Internationally acclaimed for her five brilliant novels, Elizabeth Harrower is also the author of a small body of short fiction. A Few Days in the Country brings together for the first time her stories published in Australian journals in the 1960s and 1970s, along with those from her archives—including ‘Alice’, published for the first time in 2015 in the New Yorker. Essential reading for Harrower fans, these finely turned pieces show a broader range than the novels, ranging from caustic satires to gentler explorations of friendship.

About the author

Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. In 1951 Harrower travelled to London and began to write. Her first novel, Down in the City, was published there in 1957 and was followed by The Long Prospect a year later. In 1959 she returned to Sydney, where she worked in radio and then in publishing. Harrower published The Watch Tower, the novel often called her masterpiece, in 1966. As well as novels Harrower wrote short stories, most of which are collected in A Few Days in the Country (2015). Elizabeth Harrower lives in Sydney.

Judges' Comments

Classic, beautifully crafted stories. Harrower expertly conjures a time and place and each character feels distinctly different from the next. These stories are perfectly formed and the collection is expertly structured into one cohesive whole. This is a masterclass in how to write a classic short story. Each story leaves its own inkwork upon you.

Read more

Portable Curiosities cover

Portable Curiosities

Julie Koh

UQP

About the book

A biting collection of stories from a bold new voice. In Portable Curiosities, Julie Koh re-imagines our world with a dark, satirical twist. These twelve stories combine absurd humour with searing critiques on contemporary society – the rampant consumerism, the casual misogyny, the insidious fear of those who are different. Brilliantly clever and brimming with heart, this unforgettable collection is the work of a significant new talent.

About the author

Julie Koh was born in Sydney to Chinese-Malaysian parents. She studied politics and law at the University of Sydney, then quit a career in corporate law to pursue writing. Her short stories have since appeared in numerous publications. Julie has been a finalist in the Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards Written Word category, longlisted for the Australian Book Review’s Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, and shortlisted for the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize for New and Emerging Writers.

Judges' Comments

Surreal, funny, and with emotional depth, it is a breath of fresh air to read Koh's stories. They playfully avoid realism but still manage to convey complex ideas and situations. This is a clever book with sharp writing. The judges feel that this kind of bold experimentation should be encouraged. We very much enjoyed Portable Curiosities.

Read more

The High Places cover

The High Places

Fiona McFarlane

Penguin Random House

About the book

The dazzling stories in The High Places find those moments when people confront the strangeness and mystery of their lives. Ranging around the world from a remote Pacific island to outback Australia to the tourist haunts of Greece, these stories are written with extraordinary invention, great emotional insight and wry humour. Each one of them is as rich and rewarding as literature can be.

About the author

Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, and has degrees in English from Sydney University and Cambridge University, and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, the Best Australian Stories and the New Yorker, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy and the Australia Council for the Arts. The Night Guest, her debut novel, has sold into fifteen territories around the world. She lives in Sydney.

Read more