Every year for 18 years, Black Inc. has delighted in publishing the Best Australian Stories Essays and Poems from our country's finest writers. It's hard to believe that it's the 18th year that we've published these annual anthologies – where does the time go – but we're enormously proud of how this series has evolved to showcase the strength and diversity of Australian writing.
Edited by leading figures in the literary community, each collection ranges widely in style and subject matter; spilling over with pieces which approximate the human experience so succinctly that they're liable to leave the reader a little out of breath.
Charlotte Wood, editor of The Best Australian Stories 2016
'It has been both a pleasure and a serious challenge for me to choose this year’s Best Australian Stories. Having to leave out so many excellent works was heartbreaking, but I’m thrilled to be able to include a few emerging artists alongside some of our most respected short story writers. Among the former, Kate Ryan’s 'Where Her Sisters Live' – with its elegant cadences and muted threats, a perfect evocation of early adolescence – was one that gripped me immediately, proving that ‘the voice does not just tell the story, it is the story’. In the latter camp, the collection's first story, 'Monster Diary', shows Paddy O’Reilly at her strange, unsettling best. She’s a true original; as soon as I read this piece I knew I wanted it to open the book. It introduces what I think is a fine collection of ghosts, monsters and visitations.'
Geordie Williamson, editor of The Best Australian Essays 2016
'The editing process was complicated this year in a good way – by the sheer weight of submissions – evidence not only of the robustness of our journalism and literary magazines, but of the number of issues we feel bound to worry at and debate. That these are interesting times is borne out by essays on everything from climate emergency to Manus Island, indigenous affairs in Northern Australia to neoliberalism in North America. I've tried to dial through the full spectrum of issues and pick out the strongest signals from among the static. The essay that moved me most belonged to Behrouz Boochani. It is a virtue of this anthology that by the simple act of inclusion, the words of a Kurdish-Iranian may meet on equal terms with the broad Australian community of writers and thinkers.'
Sarah Holland-Batt, editor of The Best Australian Poems 2016
'In selecting the Best Australian Poems for 2016, I found myself exhilarated by what I read; by the dynamism and diversity of the poetry being published in Australia at present. It was no small task to whittle the vast number of very fine poems... and while reaching my final selection included no small measure of agonising, I’m delighted by what that distillation process has produced. I discovered several poets I had not yet encountered, among them Evelyn Araluen, who writes movingly of the continuous cultural knowledge embedded in language and country in ‘Learning Bandjalung on Tharawal’. Meredi Ortega's ‘Cyborg Me’ offers a mordant feminist take on designer bodies and biotechnology, while a characteristically fleet-footed poem by David Malouf centres on an otherworldly encounter with a scent ‘so heavy’ it causes him to invent wild scenarios to explain its presence. Its mixture of rationalism and mystery seemed to me emblematic of the heady, confounding and enigmatic encounter offered to us by poetry.'
The Best Australian Writing series is published by Black Inc.