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Richell Prize 2021 shortlist announced

Hachette Australia and the Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) have announced the shortlist for the 2021 Richell Prize for emerging writers.

The shortlisted writers were judged on the first three chapters of their submitted work of adult fiction or nonfiction. The winner will receive $10,000 in prize money along with a 12-month mentorship with one of Hachette Australia’s publishers. Hachette will work with the winning writer to develop their manuscript, with first option to consider the finished work and shortlisted entries for publication.

The five shortlisted writers, chosen from a longlist of 16, are:

  • Ben Randall for ‘Snakehead’: ‘This disturbing biography is a first-hand account of the global sex trade… This is a confronting story and the author maintained both maturity and humility in the narrative voice and shares important information in a gripping and compelling way. Randall is clearly a man on a mission to shine a light on the horrific realities of modern-day slavery. Chilling yet compulsive reading.’
  • Jessica Kirkness for ‘A Sense of You’: ‘Beautifully crafted, this is a remarkably assured biography of the experience of a family living with deafness. Poetic writing and Kirkness’s ability to convey how the language of signing is experienced bodily and visually is impressive. This hybrid format incorporating personal loss combined with the history of Deaf Schools both in Australia and abroad, and research into the medicine and mechanics of audition, makes for a captivating read.’
  • Kay Harrison for ‘Flip the Bird’: ‘A beautiful rendering of the joy of coming home to Australia and the sadness of unreached potential. Rich in descriptive detail and sharply observed dialogue … Flip the Bird has both literary and commercial potential. A superb piece of writing with a narrative arc that promises a journey that is both intelligent and lyrically satisfying.’
  • Odette Des Forges for ‘Chasing Sadie’: ‘A coming-of-age narrative and a mystery … Chasing Sadie engages with the shame and loathing of our alcohol-infused culture. The depiction of friendship and the hints of how past relationships and lives lived can impact a sense of self felt relatable and captivating. The judges saw potential for Chasing Sadie to develop into a strong, commercially viable novel.’
  • Simone Jordan for ‘Tell Her She’s Dreamin”: ‘A powerful story about growing up Arab-Australian… In a narrative filled with sharp observations as well as a stinging commentary on the social milieu of her childhood and teen years, this writer has achieved a fine balance between her personal story and how that interweaves with the larger picture of family history, the music industry and an inherently racist society.’

The judging panel for the 2021 prize includes Hachette Australia publisher Vanessa Radnidge, author Hannah Richell, editor and writer Jasmin McGaughey, Australian Booksellers Association CEO Robbie Egan and The Leaf Bookshop owner Katy Downey.

Of the shortlist they said: ‘This year there were many discussions about the longlisted entries and it was a difficult task to choose our shortlist. However, the five shortlisted entries stood out and the talent and storytelling power of these writers could not be denied. All highlight the quality and depth of contemporary Australian writing. These five shortlisted writers perfectly honour the memory of Matt Richell, a man who was dedicated to promoting and encouraging emerging writers.’

Now in its seventh year, the Richell Prize has been awarded to writers including Else Fitzgerald, Ruth McIver, Sam Coley and, most recently, Aisling Smith.

The winner will be announced on 4 November. For more information, see the EWF website.


Category: Awards Local news