Shortlist year: 2017

Shortlist category: Non-fiction

Published by: University of Western Australia Publishing

Randolph Stow was one of the greatest Australian writers of his generation. His seven remarkable novels and several collections of poetry helped to change the way Australians viewed their land and their literature.

In Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow, Falkiner unravels the reasons behind Stow’s eventual quiet retreat from the literary world. Meticulously researched, insightful and at times deeply moving, Falkiner’s biography pieces together an intriguing life from Stow’s letters, diaries, and interviews with his closest friends. Stow’s own story provides us with keys to unlock the meaning of his rich and introspective works.

About the author

Dr Suzanne Falkiner

Suzanne Falkiner was born in Sydney and grew up in western New South Wales. After graduating from the University of New South Wales she spent several years travelling in Asia, Europe and South America, and has lived in Paris, Umbria, and New York, where she completed postgraduate courses at Columbia University.

Following various jobs in book and magazine publishing in Sydney, from the mid 1980s she has combined being a full time writer with editing, book reviewing, travel and other journalism. In 2005 she was awarded a Doctorate of Creative Arts at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Judges’ comments

This is a comprehensive biography of an important Australian writer, Randolph Stow, known to friends and family as Mick.

Suzanne Falkiner has undertaken extensive research and uncovered new material about an enigmatic novelist and poet who spent his final years as a recluse far from his country of birth. The text ranges from his childhood in wartime rural Western Australia to his formative years studying in Perth through to his years as a wandering ex-pat, and eventually as resident of the port town of Harwich Essex.

Stow’s brilliance was combined with personal battles against depression and mental illness and Falkiner handles this material with respect while never avoiding the truth of the writer’s life. In many ways this is a conventional biography but Falkiner’s curiosity and interest in the social and cultural context in which Stow worked, make it a compelling read.