Well, aren’t we just tickled pink to announce this one!

The Hoopla is very pleased to be hosting a lunch for The Stella Prize at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival.

 width=And you are all invited to join in the festivities with The Hoopla entourage and Tara Moss, Di Morrissey, Anne Summers (left), Anita Heiss, Anna Krien, Sophie Cunningham and other leading women writers for a fun-filled repast of literary laughs, trivia and conversation.

Make a place in your diary for May 18 and book your tickets here.

You know we are very literary-minded here at The Hoopla.

Aussie women writers Maggie Alderson, Linda Jaivin, Charlotte Wood, Valerie Parv, Sophie Cunningham, Jane Caro and Tara Moss are among our biggest supporters.

And we are always looking to make the diverse voices of Australian women heard and appreciated in the national discourse. So when we saw The Stella Prize was all about that too, we thought it was a (same-sex) marriage made in heaven.

 width=Patrons of the Stella Prize include Kate Grenville, Eva Cox AO and Claudia Karvan.

As Helen Garner says: “The Stella Prize, with its graceful flexibility about genre, will encourage women writers to work in the forms they feel truly at home in, instead of having to squeeze themselves into the old traditional corsets.”

Wise and wonderful wordy women!

Another “w”?

Perhaps that’s a glass of wine!

We thank SWF director, Chip Rolley for making us so welcome in his stellar line-up for the 2012 festival.

Come and join us for lunch. Please do!

Now, over to Stella Prize board member, Monica Dux for everything Stella!

 width=Monica Dux. Photograph via Ampersand Magazine.



That’s not an easy question to answer. But one thing is clear; women’s writing is certainly not as valued as men’s. At least that’s the impression you get when you look at the statistics put out by an American organization called Women in Literary Arts, or VIDA.

These figures would make any aspiring woman writer weep, or at least think about a career change. In all the world’s most prestigious literary rags, books by women are reviewed far less than men’s, and it’s also men who write the vast majority of those reviews.

In Australia there is a similar bias, a bias which is also reflected in the number of awards won by women.

Last year, Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin, had an all-male shortlist. The same thing happened in 2009. Another lamentable statistic: since 1957, when the Miles Franklin Award began, women have won it only 13 times.

As part of the National Year of Reading, a list of eight titles was recently announced, books that were chosen as ‘articulating the Australian experience’. Out of the 8, only one was written by a woman. (And the list was voted for by the public, so we can’t point the finger at our publishers and editors this time.)

But this is not just about sheer numbers and statistics. Last year V. S. Naipaul infamously claimed that no woman writer was his equal, and that upon reading something he immediately knows whether it was penned by a woman or a man. (Many women possess a similar skill in detecting whether an article is penned by a male chauvinist pig or not.)

All this inequity raises many important questions about women’s status in our supposedly equal modern society.

Sadly there are no easy answers to those questions, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do.

As a first step, talking about these issues is crucial. So is getting our bums into gear and reading more books written by women. In response to this call, Elizabeth Lhuede, a Sydney writer, has set up the Australian Women Writers Challenge, inviting readers to review books by Australian women across all genres.

And, last year, in response to these discussions emerged The Stella Prize, in the process of being set up by a group of women, myself included, who are passionate about books and writing.

The Stella Prize will annually award an Australian woman writer a prize of $50 000.

We want the prize to promote and celebrate Australian women’s writing, to get more people reading books by Australian women, and to encourage a new generation of women writers.

We expect to have the prize open for submissions in 2013.

Women do have voices, and those voices deserve to be heard as much as men’s. It’s just a matter of finding ways to make this happen.  We hope that a prize such as The Stella, and the conversations that come out of it, will be one step in that direction.

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