Published works

Most recent publication is my young adult dystopian novel, Days Like This (Penguin Australia, August 1, 2011):

 Reviews are in my “Days Like This” folder.

Adult Fiction

  • Born into the Country (Justified Press, Johannesburg, 1988)
  • Bitterbloom (William Heinemann Australia, 1991)

Children’s and Young Adult Fiction

  •  Ribs story in Hair Raising anthology (Omnibus Books 1992 Australia). Older readers.
  • Pilchards in Tomato Sauce, Illustrated by Craig Smith (Random House, 1995, Australia). Junior Fiction.
  • The Wishing Moon (Random House, 1995). Older readers.
  • The Year The Star Fell (Hodder Headline, 1997, Australia). Older readers.
  • Sweetwater Night (Hodder Signature, 1998, Australia). Older readers.
  • Pineapple Ravioli, Illustrated by Craig Smith (Hodder Headline, 1999, Australia). Junior fiction
  • The Memory Shell (Hodder Signature, 2000, Australia). Older readers.
  • Days Like This (Penguin Australia, 2011). Young Adult.

 

 

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Born Into the Country (Justified Press, 1988, South Africa)
 

Some review excerpts:

Born Into The Country is a powerful first novel. Its many strengths save it from
becoming ingenuous…It is well written and well crafted. At no time does this novel
become a raised-fist protest piece and it is this quality that makes the novel so
endearing. It is not a political diatribe but the story of a woman’s life and her courage,
conviction and determination to succeed despite terrible odds. This story is unique.
Nothing like it has ever been written.” Velia Biden, The Star, Johannesburg.

“Alison Stewart is a new discovery. Her novel is the voice of our conscience and a
powerful reminder of how so many South Africans live. It is not a comfortable novel
but it’s required reading for those of us who have had little exposure to the black
township and “homeland” experience.” Shona Bagley, Cosmopolitan.

“The strength of this novel is the author’s empathy with her subject. The book could
have been overwritten and sentimental but it is neither, painting a picture of a lonely
woman’s struggle to come to grips with those who would oppress her and crush her
spirit. The book never loses sight of the deep humanity of its subject which is starkly
contrasted against the brutality of the state.” Sunday Times, Johannesburg.

“Distance has sharpened memories so that one can smell the veld, taste the sweetness
and the bitterness, feel the heat of a northern Transvaal summer, the brittle quality of a
formal party…All the characters help to make the book moving and memorable.”
Barbara Ludman, Weekly Mail, Johannesburg.

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Bitterbloom (William Heinemann Australia, 1991)

 

Some review excerpts:

“Bitterbloom is not a statement about the evils of apartheid nor is it an outpouring of
social guilt. It is a beautifully realised exploration of human experience…A highly
controlled and skilfully written novel which offers the reader a rich and perplexing
landscape of human emotion and self knowledge.” Fern Voller, Melbourne Report.

“Sharply observed people, full of opinions, jostle for our attention…Stewart’s writing
has an edge and irony…she has a merciless ear for self-crucifying speech…Stewart’s
writing reveals much about the early feelings of all those Australians who have come
from somewhere else…Funny, honest and lyrical.” Diane Giese, Australian.

“Stewart’s descriptions are frightening and well drawn. She writes with tremendous
felicity to the transient sensations of her characters and yet the tone is often weirdly
dispassionate… In the absence of a just political system writing becomes the best
medium for expression for the liberal conscience. It’s not surprising therefore that
white South Africans have excelled internationally as novelists…Stewart has a perfect
eye and mind for description and the ability to develop plausible characters in a
compelling narrative…Bitterbloom is engaging and memorable.” Mike Van Niekerk,
Australian Book Review.

“Bitterbloom is deeply concerned with memory’s darker shades, with recovering and
adjusting to pasts…Stewart has skilfully shaped a narrative that takes the reader into
and through Georgia’s memories, nimbly avoiding the predictable and offering little
of the facile empathy that is often the stock-in-trade of humanist fictions…Here we
can see the enabling capacities of allegory to explore and explain otherwise thorough
intersections of matter and memory.” Peter Hutchings, The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Stewart juxtaposes the two cultures with revealing irony. Her greatest strength is the
degree to which she confronts the spectres of fear and blinkered survival in a state of
war with itself … Bitterbloom made me understand some of my own conflicts about
leaving my birthplace in search of security and peace. When they are old enough, this
is one of the books I’ll give my children to help explain my periods of moody
introspection.” Giles Hugo, Hobart Mercury.
 

“Bitterbloom arrives at no easy answers but concludes with credible hope …
Bitterbloom is a novel by a woman whose name is not familiar on the Australian
literary scene, although this could change in the near future.” Monica Carroll,
Adelaide Advertiser.

 
“An intriguingly written book.” David Owen, The Age

“I very much enjoyed Bitterbloom.” Peter Ross, ABC TV

“This is a terrific book.” Ranald Macdonald, ABC Radio.

“Stewart’s years in Australia have given her a perspective and a distance but there is
still a lot of the freshness of her first experience of Australian life. I find that attractive
because Australian literature is still, in lots of ways, an immigrant literature … In this
book, I read lots of fresh emotional insights into the South African/Australian
experience…The strength of the book is the emotional insight, the way it delves into
Georgia’s psyche and gives us her emotional responses and she is so in love with this
country …” Mark Macleod, ABC TV

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Ribs – Hair Raising anthology (Omnibus Books 1992 Australia)

Ribs audiocassette with other stories by Ruth Park, Victor Kelleher and Gary Crew (ABC Publications, 1992 Australia)
Hair Raising (Scholastic Inc, 1995, USA)
Hair Raising CD (ABC Books & Video, 2006, Australia)

 

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Pilchards in Tomato Sauce, Illus. Craig Smith (Random House, 1995, Australia)

 

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The Wishing Moon (Random House, 1995, Australia)

The Wishing Moon “La Maledizione Di Jameson Place” (Arnoldo Mondatori Editore S.p.A., 1997, Italy)


 

 Some review excerpts:

“Alison Stewart’s The Wishing Moon is a polished, dark and triumphant work. This
book has big issues at centre stage – overcoming bleakness and the forces of fear. It is
a powerful evocation of things that worry young people and it deals with issues like
unemployment and new conservative change. It shows young people beginning to
take responsibility for what they think and do and for what they can change.”
Michelle Mee, Australian Women’s Book Review.

“I could not put this book down and raced through it in an afternoon. What a fabulous
book for so many reasons. I found Alison Stewart’s tight writing style very gripping. I
was totally convinced by the oppressive atmosphere that she has created, and was
totally exhausted after reading the book. The fact that my phone rang at the exact
moment when the possessed Alice grabbed Winnie’s arm scared me out of my skin. I
felt really possessed by the story and was really glad I wasn’t reading it at home in
bed. Not many stories I read do that to me.”
Sarah Cox, La Trobe University School of Education.

“This is an impressive, captivating novel, right from the opening scene in the barber’s
shop with Winnie a quietly engaging, resourceful and nicely ironic protagonist. The
story weaves various strands. It is a telling picture of Australian urban conformity and
the genuine suffering and cruelty experienced by those who don’t fit or don’t choose
to fit. It is also a scary horror story with bizarre happenings at ‘the death house’ as the
locals call it so it might well capture the Pike and Stine addicts. However, what
impressed this reader most was Winnie, who, through it all, the teasing, taunts,
ostracising at school, the horrors of the house and what it is doing to her parents,
resists giving in to any of it. She will not be a victim, not to the horror, the bullying or
the emotional pressure. The restrained prose, the South African elements, the real
sense of threat without sensationalism, the wincingly accurate arguments between
parents and the painful bullying conversations, offset by wry humour of Winnie and
Stewart herself, work to make this book distinctive in tone and appeal, highly
recommended.” Pam Macintyre, Viewpoint.

“Fourteen-year-old Winnie narrates this suspenseful novel of haunting and visions.
The gift of second sight allows Winnie to witness scenes of terror and blood, scenes
from the hellish history of their ‘death house’. Tensions and frictions mount in the
family until the terrifying climax reveals the horrible truth. Stewart presents a story
with a gripping plot and believable characters with enough blood and terror to woo
Christopher Pike addicts away to more solid writing.” W. Muskin, NSW Department
of Education.

“A little spooky in places but a wonderful book. One of the best I’ve read…this book
would be great for schools.” Stacy McCarthy, Year 9, John Curtin SHS, writing in
the West Australian English Teachers’ Journal.

“This is a ghost story with a refreshing difference and an unusual background.”
Margaret Dunkle, Australian Bookseller and Publisher.

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The Year The Star Fell (Hodder Headline, 1997, Australia)

The Year The Star Fell “Valse Vriendschap” (De Geillustreerde Pers, 2000, Holland)

 

 

 

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Sweetwater Night (Hodder Signature, 1998, Australia/NZ)
Sweetwater Night (CDR, 2000, Denmark)

Some review excerpts:

“The reader’s attention is tightly held as the friendships between the group is
stretched to breaking point and the tension between brother and sister becomes
enmeshed with guilt over their father’s death and the decision to go against their
mother’s wishes. It’s a great read, one which will have kids of lower secondary age
turning the pages all the way to the less than happy ending. After an experience like
that, it would be totally unbelievable if the story was neatly resolved … and it’s
heartening to see an author and publisher not pandering to that conservatism, in a
novel aimed at the twelve-to fifteen-year-old age group.” Fran Knight, Magpies
Volume 13 No 2.

“The importance of setting is clearly highlighted in this novel. The Sweetwater State
Forest is on the one hand, a beautiful, magical place with clear, bubbling streams and
magnificent trees. Yet it can, and does, suddenly turn to a place where the bush is a
solid wall and the giant trees become like a coffin. Instead of offering a place of
sanctuary, it becomes a sinister landscape of dead-end paths, grasping, scratching
bushes and impenetrable forest as the killer closes in on the group. Sweetwater Night
is a well-paced story, with the reader positioned to align with Matt as he deals with
some personal demons. This novel is also useful for discussions on ‘letting go’ and
dealing with change and is a most engaging story.” Sheila Lea, School of Isolated
and Distance Education, Fiction Focus Vol. 12 No. 2.

“The tension may keep the novel rolling but the best parts of Sweetwater Night are the
scenes where Matt and Jenny make the first overtures to understanding each other and
what their father’s death has meant to their relationship between themselves and with
their mother. Matt’s obsession with his own feelings has blinded him to the feelings of
the two people he most cares about, and Stewart paints a convincing picture of his
growth in awareness of that aspect of himself.” S. Lees, Reading Time, Vol 42, No 2.

“Alison Stewart’s well-paced story manages to convey the emotions felt by the four
friends in a manner which is believable and not cloying. She explores how two of the
characters deal with their grief and how the four cope in a stressful situation.” Joy
Greenway.

“A strong tale of adventure and self discovery.” Michael Barry, Belconnen Canberra
Chronicle.

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Pineapple Ravioli Illus. Craig Smith (Hodder Headline, 1999, Australia)

 

 

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The Memory Shell (Hodder Signature, 2000, Australia/NZ)
The Memory Shell (Kurusapa Business Org, 2003, Thailand)

Some review excerpts:

“Alison Stewart’s The Memory Shell explores a young girl’s inclination to be free of
her parents’ suffocating rules and to discover the meaning of freedom…She must
confront old memories and make some difficult choices … The Memory Shell is an
inspirational novel, which allows the reader to journey with Hannah into a teenager’s
world.” Rachelle Daniels, Kirwan High School, Townsville Bulletin.

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