Charlotte Wood has won the $50,000 Stella Prize for writing by Australian women, for her novel The Natural Way of Things — described by literary editor Jason Steger as “a fierce response to misogyny and abuse of power.”
Set in Australia in the future, the story features a group of women who have been rounded up and imprisoned on a remote rural property. Each has been caught up in a sexual scandal with a powerful man — and the women have come off second-best. Over time, they begin to assert themselves.
Wood told Steger she found inspiration in a recent documentary about the cruel conditions in a notorious 1960s girls’ home, and the more recent shaming of a female army cadet, filmed while having sex and later shamed for it.
Writing The Natural Way of Things made Wood “braver in just standing up and stating a view about things,” she said. “I was raised to be a ‘nice’ girl and I value being a nice person, but for women that can be a real trap — to always feel that you can’t voice disagreement.”
The chair of the Stella judges, Brenda Walker, called the story a “timely tale, as Australia considers issues around public and domestic violence, in particular violence against women.”
The Guardian reports a new AU$30 million ($39,000) campaign will be launched this weekend by the Australian federal and state governments, raising awareness of the broader conditions of gender inequality and the alarming levels of violence against women nationally.
Read the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald.