Alexis Wright wins the Stella Prize
Tracker, Alexis Wright's vast and remarkable biography of Northern Territory Aboriginal activist Leigh Bruce ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth who died in 2015, has won this year’s Stella Prize for work by an Australian female writer. The announcement was made at a ceremony in Sydney on Thursday night earning Wright, who won the 2007 Miles Franklin Award, a cheque for $50,000.
Tilmouth, part of the Stolen Generation and taken from his family at the age of three, helped establish legal aid and health services for Indigenous communities in his region. A visionary and entrepreneur, he also served as director of the Central Land Council and was considering a career in Federal politics at the time of his untimely death. Wright’s mammoth study of Tilmouth’s life is the result of interviews with family, friends, colleagues and Tilmouth himself.
The judges describe Tracker as a “remarkable biography”, adding “it is one man’s story told by many voices, almost operatic in scale. With a tight narrative structure, compelling real-life characters, the book sings with insight and Tracker’s unique humour’’.
In her acceptance speech Wright, who is the first Indigenous writer to win the Stella Prize, expressed her gratitude to Tilmouth. “I thought very deeply about how to develop this book about him by using our own storytelling principle of consensus, to give everyone the opportunity to tell their part in the story,’’ Wright said. She told the Stella Prize audience: “I worked on this book because I felt that Australia needed to hear what Tracker had to say. It is important. It involves the future of Aboriginal people and our culture.''
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