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2017 - Shortlisted
Suzanne Falkiner’s Mick: A life of Randolph Stow is the first comprehensive biography of one of Australia’s greatest writers. Falkiner has pieced together an intriguing life history, from Stow’s beginnings in rural Western Australia, to his wandering years, and his later retreat into near silence and more-or-less contented obscurity in England. We note the biography’s extraordinary scholarship — involving exhaustive research and expert handling of the material — and its subtle, cumulative sense of this incredibly complex and difficult subject. While Mick is not a ‘lit-crit’ study of Stow’s works, it richly contextualises those works within the broader arc of the writer’s life. It reveals how he wove into his fiction and poetry various strands of his life experiences, travels, relationships, torments and his search for meaning. Stow’s elusiveness makes him an unusually challenging subject for a biographer, and this superb biography has met the challenge.