It was an honour for us to read so many wonderful submissions and it is always difficult to narrow the entries down, knowing the time, effort and creativity that has gone into each work. However, the shortlisted writers all sparked our attention and would not be denied. It is a remarkable shortlist and the compelling voices, the powerful ideas and the excellence of the writing thrilled us all. Every work illuminates an exciting talent and demonstrates the quality and depth of contemporary Australian writing. To have five very different works by five extremely talented writers on this shortlist is the perfect way to honour the memory of Matt Richell, a man with an eclectic reading taste with one common thread – the quality of the writer.
The shortlisted writers are: in alphabetical order by surname:
Mandy Beaumont, for She is Bright Light and All Brilliance, an emotionally powerful and uncompromising short story collection exploring the ideas of femininity from a writer who has already won many short story and poetry awards and whose talent is undeniable.
Zoe Ghani, Pomegranate & Fig, a touching and beautifully told novel about war, displacement, and family inspired by the experiences of those close to the author.
Ruth McIver, I Shot the Devil, a dark and unforgettable literary noir that was hard to put down.
Fiona Murphy, The Shape of Sound, a very personal and honest memoir about a silent secret, shedding fear and gaining disability pride that gives an insight into an exceptional situation.
Fiona Robertson, Tempest and Other Stories, a masterful and moving collection of short stories focused on acceptance, forgiveness, and hope from another award-winning writer.
It was an incredibly strong shortlist, but the judges were all united in their praise of Richell Prize 2018 winner, Ruth McIver’s I SHOT THE DEVIL. Set in a fictional town in Long Island, New York, the story has two narrative threads: one taking place in 1994, the other in 2010. The novel draws on the traditions of memoir and true crime writers to create a dark and unforgettable literary noir that shows an emerging writer of considerable literary talent. Atmospheric and chillingly entertaining, this was a novel that every single judge wanted to read more of.
Hachette Australia, along with the Richell family, is thrilled to announce that Aisling Smith, author of Petrichor, has been awarded the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers for 2020.