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Shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize. Six Bedrooms is about growing up; about discovering sex; and about coming of age. Full of glorious angst, embarrassment and small achievements.

Shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize. Six Bedrooms is about growing up; about discovering sex; and about coming of age. Full of glorious angst, embarrassment and small achievements.

Hot afternoons on school ovals, the terrifying promise of losing your virginity, sneaking booze from your mother’s pantry, the painful sophistication and squalor of your first share house, cancer, losing a parent.

Tegan Bennett Daylight’s powerful collection captures the dangerous, tilting terrain of becoming adult. Over these ten stories, we find acute portrayals of loss and risk, of sexual longing and wreckage, blunders and betrayals. Threaded through the collection is the experience of troubled, destructive Tasha, whose life unravels in unexpected ways, and who we come to love for her defiance, her wit and her vulnerability.

Stunningly written, and shot through with humour and menace, Six Bedrooms is a mesmerising collection of moments from adolescence through adulthood, a mix of all the potent ingredients that make up a life.

Reviews

The ten stories in this collection take the reader through the six bedrooms of teenagers. A cast of feckless, brilliant and believable characters experience first sexual encounters, illness, death and grief. All the stories in Six Bedrooms connect the reader with the world of adolescence, in a strong and urgent representation of the vulnerabilities and the loneliness of the young. Tegan Bennett Daylight navigates her territory with great energy and skill. Her writing is fine-edged and precise, delivering an insider’s view of the minutiae of teenage lives. These stories elicit great concern for the young, and also for the state of parenthood. They are thoughtful, full of understanding about situations and motivations, and, almost painfully, believable.

Stella Judges, Stellla Prize Longlist report

My standout book of 2015 is Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight. These acute, funny and heartbreaking short stories about young people negotiating the dangerous social and emotional territory between childhood and adulthood have been highly acclaimed this year, and rightly so. The precision of Daylight's prose and the acuity, intelligence and originality of her observations are breathtaking.

Charlotte Wood, The Sydney Morning Herald

It all comes together as one of the best books of the year. This is an incredibly well written and thoughtful, sad and funny work, and the kind of book you want to press onto people and encourage them to read. Highly recommended.

Chris Somerville, Readings

This collection of 10 stories, several of them linked by an enigmatic central character named Tasha, is an assured, absorbing exploration of young adulthood, tricky terrain indeed. Daylight, the author of three novels, acutely navigates those cripplingly self-conscious early steps into the adult world. Daylight writes beautifully about the external world, especially the air and light and heat of Sydney, the setting for most of the stories. I admire how she withholds details and information, such as in Chemotherapy Bay, where the relationship between a cancer patient and a woman who visits him is unclear, and somehow more moving for that. This withholding nurtures unexpected twists in some of the tales, such as the stark, confronting conclusion to Other Animals. The relationships between young adults and their parents (and other adults) are mercilessly drawn, and often funny. And the final story, Together Alone, in which the narrator has a young son, opens with a beautiful meditation on parenthood.

Stephen Romei, The Australian

I was enormously impressed by Tegan Bennett Daylight's finely wrought scenes from the world of late adolescence and early adulthood, in Six Bedrooms.

James Bradley, Australian Book Review

Daylight's eye is both compassionate and forensic. Although a realist, she has a heightened, poetic sensibility, capable of conjuring up beautiful images. Daylight has captured that emotional turbulence in these stories, writing characters who are fragile and confused with acuity and empathy.

Caroline Baum, The Sydney Morning Herald

This book of short stories – some interconnected, some standalone – is intimate and beautifully observed. The eye is clear and unflinching, but never merciless.

Tracy Sorensen, The Newtown Review of Books

Pungent observations punctuate the 10 stories. No small part of Daylight's adroitness as a narrator is to manage Tasha's voices and the limits of her understanding at the different stages of life in which she is introduced. Daylight summons a calm that stills emotional excess better to let us see how lives can end. Yet there is a comic register in the collection as well, whether involving adolescent misadventures with sex and booze or the expatriate experience. One of Daylight's signal achievements is her unerring judgment of how long a story needs to be, a matter of weighting its parts, controlling its moment, being able to conclude with a satisfying tantalisation without resort to trickery. There are endings, of course – deaths, ruptures, departures – but they do not foreclose other possibilities latent in the stories. Six Bedrooms shows Daylight to be one of the most morally astute, technically adroit, anti-formulaic and unsentimental practitioners of the short story craft in Australia. Here are stories that might make us think abroad as well – even as far as Alice Munro.

Peter Pierce, The Sydney Morning Herald

The messy, awkward transitions from late adolescence to adulthood are the rich material for this collection in which several characters, most notably a young woman called Tasha, reappear. Daylight has real acuity, insight and sympathy for her characters, no matter how embarrassing their missteps as they project themselves into the unfamiliar dynamics of new relationships. Parents hover in the wings, mostly ineffectually, occasionally picking up the pieces. Hearts and bodies twist with longing and misdirected desire. She never judges, but observes with an unblinking, all-seeing eye. Reading this collection is a potent memory jogger that will make you grateful that you are no longer a twenty-something trying to work out your place in the world. But it will also make you smile, ruefully, as you remember the mistakes, parties, intoxications, and moments of shrivelling embarrassment that helped shape your adult self. Above all, you will come away with admiration for a writer who harnesses sensation, memory and heightened realism to great effect.

Caroline Baum, Booktopia Buzz

A collection of acute, moving, often excrutiatingly insightful stories about young people on the cusp of adulthood.

Charlotte Wood, The Writer's Room Interviews

Through excision and precision, Daylight evokes moments of truth and emergence.

Felicity Plunkett, The Australian

A scorchingly honest and controlled account of hunger and pain in a social realm composed entirely of sharp edges

GEORDIE WILLIAMSON

All the stumbling awkwardness of youth is displayed with candid insightfulness, including experimentation, substance abuse and being uncomfortable in one's own skin.

Thuy On, The Sunday Age

Tegan Bennett Daylight's Six Bedrooms was mighty fine

Susan Johnson, The Sydney Morning Herald

These stories have a remarkable relationship to time. At first reading they are captivating, funny, and excruciating tales of young people coming to terms with themselves and adult life. As readers we experience - or re-live - the painful and embarrassing scenes of youth with vivid immediacy. But then we realise - perhaps on a second reading, for these stories are well worth revisiting - that Bennett Daylight is also looking at these young people from a longer view, reflecting with clear-eyed compassion on their human potentialities and weaknesses.

Lucinda Holdforth, SWF Blog

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9780857989130

    July 1, 2015

    Vintage Australia

    240 pages

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9780857989147

    July 1, 2015

    RHA eBooks Adult

    240 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • 2015
    Colin Roderick Award
    Longlisted
  • 2015
    Colin Roderick Award
    Longlisted
  • 2016
    ALS Gold Medal Award
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    ALS Gold Medal Award
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Nita B Kibble Literary Awards
    Longlisted
  • 2016
    Nita B Kibble Literary Awards
    Longlisted
  • 2016
    Queensland Literary Award
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Queensland Literary Award
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    The Stella Prize
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    The Stella Prize
    Shortlisted
  • 2016
    Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
    Commended
  • 2016
    Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
    Commended

Also by Tegan Bennett Daylight

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Recommendations

The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
Best Laid Plans
Echo Burning
A Gentleman in Moscow
Fool Me Once
Private Delhi
The Girl on the Train
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Voyager
Swing Time
Men Without Women
Paris For One And Other Stories
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Girls
The Mistress
The Bone Collection
Cold Blood
Fifty Shades Darker