It’s finally happening. An annual literary prize for Australian women’s fiction: The Stella Prize.

Do we really need another literary prize, you might well ask? The answer should be no, but it isn’t.

While there are plenty of fine books by women published and plenty of women reading, it is unfortunately still the case in this country that more reviewers of books are men, that more books by men are reviewed than books by women, and more books by men win literary prizes. The reasons for this are many and complex, and in some ways, just reflect broader disparities in our society (that old glass ceiling might be cracked, but it is yet to be shattered).

The Stella Prize is intended to help rectify this in the literary world, drawing attention to more wonderful books by Australian women writers. It has been set up rather like the UK’s Orange Prize, introduced in 1994 for the same reasons. And not enough has changed since then.

So, for now, we need the Stella.

For more on literary gender disparities see Nike’s number crunching and the lovely Susan Johnson’s response.

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