2020 ARA Historical Novel Prize Longlist: Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe

HNSA, in partnership with the ARA Group, recently announced the eight talented authors, and their outstanding novels, selected in the 2020 longlist for the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize. Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe was one of the novels featured in the longlist. We chat with Mirandi below about why she entered the prize and what historical fiction means to her. You can also enjoy Mirandi reading an excerpt from her book via the HNSA Youtube channel. Subscribe to hear more book readings from the longlist authors in the coming weeks.

“Mirandi Riwoe recreates the experiences of two Chinese siblings struggling to survive on the North Queensland goldfields in 1877. Richly imagined and eloquently expressed, Stone Sky Gold Mountain depicts a past too rarely portrayed in Australian fiction.”

~ Kirsty Murray, Judge 2020 ARA Historical Novel Prize

What does being longlisted mean to you?
“I want to thank the Historical Novel Society Australasia and ARA Group. I am so thrilled to be longlisted in the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize—what a huge honour. I love writing historical fiction, so it is especially lovely to be recognised in this prize.”

Why did you enter the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize?
“There was quite a bit of excitement for this generous, new prize that was especially for historical fiction. I couldn’t resist throwing my hat in the ring.”

Why do you think awards like this are important?
“Historical fiction explores and reveals aspects of our past that still affect us today. It can expose the wrongs of the past, or illuminate how far we have come. An award like the ARA Historical Novel Prize is essential in supporting and promoting historical fiction as a genre and its authors.”

What is the value of historical fiction?

“Historical fiction allows us as readers and writers to know more about the past, and those who weren’t written about or investigated such as women and the working class or the culturally diverse. It can often reflect contemporary concerns and show how far we’ve come as a society but also illuminate how far we have to go.”

About Mirandi Riwoe

Mirandi Riwoe is a Brisbane-based writer. Her novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella prize and was shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize, and her debut novel, She be Damned, was released in 2017. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Review of Australian Fiction, Rex, Peril and Shibboleth and Other Stories, and she has received fellowships from the Queensland Literary Awards and Griffith Review. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies. She recently won the 2020 University of Queensland Fiction Book Award. For further information, follow Mirandi on Twitter.

About Stone Sky Gold Mountain

Family circumstances force siblings Ying and Lai Yue to flee their home in China to seek their fortunes in Australia. Life on the gold fields is hard, and they soon abandon the diggings and head to nearby Maytown. 

Once there, Lai Yue gets a job as a carrier on an overland expedition, while Ying finds work in a local store and strikes up a friendship with Meriem, a young white woman with her own troubled past. When a serious crime is committed, suspicion falls on all those who are considered outsiders.

Evoking the rich, unfolding tapestry of Australian life in the late nineteenth century, Stone Sky Gold Mountain is a heartbreaking and universal story about the exiled and displaced, about those who encounter discrimination yet yearn for acceptance.

Buy Stone Sky Gold Mountain.

The ARA Historical Novel Prize shortlist will be announced on Wednesday, 28 October, with the prize winner to be announced by both video broadcast and live stream in Sydney on the evening of Tuesday, 10 November 2020.

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