Why even write this post given that I’ve been carrying on about Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things since day dot? I think it will win the 2016 Stella Prize tonight (actually, in about two hours).
The Natural Way of Things has it all – it’s relevant; it’s current; it makes you think very hard about things that are hard to think about; the sense of place is exquisite; and Wood writes with such sparing beauty that some sentences left me breathless. But the real strength is in its lasting impression – there are many elements of this book that will stay with me: rabbits, fungi, hair removal, dolls and those bloody gift bags…. The gift bags were Wood’s masterstroke.
So, just for fun, I’ve ranked the shortlist. I’ll never know if I’m right because judging panels are too polite to reveal rankings (I don’t even know if this is a thing).
1. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
2. Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight
3. Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright
4. A Few Days in the Country: and other stories by Elizabeth Harrower
5. The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau
6. Hope Farm by Peggy Frew
Taking part in the Stella Shortlist Book Group is one of the highlights of my reading year so really, whatever the outcome tonight, it’s been another swell year.