‘Lucky’s’ wins 2021 Readings Prize
The winner of the 2021 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction is Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos (Picador).
Elizabeth Tan, who won the 2020 prize for her short story collection Smart Ovens for Lonely People (Brio), judged this year’s award alongside Readings Doncaster manager and chair of judges Kate McIntosh, managing director Mark Rubbo, book buyer Danielle Mirabella, digital content manager Jess Strong and Readings Monthly editor Jackie Tang.
Tan said Lucky’s is an ‘exceptional debut work’.
‘Far from being a rags-to-riches migrant success story, the novel is a poignant exploration of mediocrity, envy and failure. There are many threads for the reader to follow, but Pippos introduces each character and timeline with nimble charm. Despite the story’s numerous dark tragedies, there is a pleasing buoyancy and momentum to the prose—much like the brisk, rhythmic clip of the spinning Wheel of Fortune in the novel’s climax—making Lucky’s an unexpected joy to read.’
‘Lucky’s reminded us of a pre-Covid, pre-hyperconnected time, one full of different challenges but still with much to say about our current moment where fortunes can flip quickly, and compassion is needed,’ said McIntosh ‘It is an outstanding, clever debut, one so many Australians can relate to, and enjoy.’
Pippos, who receives $3000 prize money, said: ‘For a long time, the world of Lucky’s was a private space. Sometimes it felt like an extension of the daydreaming I did as a child—a world only I could visit, and which had worth only to me. It’s wonderful and humbling for my novel to be publicly recognised in this way. And the prize is recognition from an institution that I value a great deal. I’ve probably stepped foot in a Readings store every time I’ve visited Melbourne. Thank you, Readings staff, for all you’ve done for Australian books.’
Lucky’s was chosen from a shortlist of six. Tan said the Readings Prize is ‘a blessing for early-career authors and for readers in search of exciting new fiction’ and praised the shortlisted works.
‘These bracing, evocative stories compel the reader not only to turn the page, but to contemplate the cost of failing to attend to grief, trauma, injustice, and the most monstrous parts of ourselves. All of the shortlisted books are worthy of repeat readings and are propelled by bold, distinctive voices: I look forward to discovering what Baxter, Clark, Doyle, Pippos, Simpson, and Thompson write next.’
The award, now in its eighth year, recognises ‘exciting and exceptional new contributions to local literature’ and is open to first or second published works of fiction by Australian authors.