Ruby-Rose Pivet-Marsh, Artistic Director and co-CEO, Emerging Writers’ Festival said: ‘It is an honour to administrate the Richell Prize every year, and this year is certainly no exception. Thank you to all 24 readers who worked with us to create the longlist and of course, thank you to the 700 people who submitted their manuscripts to the prize - your hard work and dedication to your craft is admirable. Congratulations to the long and shortlistees - we can’t wait to keep reading your work.’
Fiona Hazard, Hachette Group Publishing Director said: ‘This year we had 700 entries into the Richell Prize. It was tough to decide on a longlist of twenty talented writers and I would like to thank all our initial readers who worked hard to consider every entry. From this longlist, the judges have told me it was possibly the hardest year to narrow down to a shortlist because of the impressive storytelling on display. Hachette, the Richell family and the Emerging Writers’ Festival would like to thank every writer who entered the Prize and encourage you all to continue to be brave and back your work.’
Every entry was read by two readers before the judging panel of Barbara Horgan, bookseller at Beaufort Street Books; Bianca Valentino, editor and writer; Hannah Richell, bestselling author; Melanie Barton, bookseller at Target Australia; and Vanessa Radnidge, Hachette Head of Literary, were presented with a longlist of twenty writers.
After detailed reading, conversation, debate and a judges’ meeting to discuss the qualities of each work, the judges have this year picked six writers for the 2022 Richell Prize shortlist.
They are, in alphabetical order by surname:
Hajer Al-awsi, Zainab’s Not Home
From the opening page this writer’s talent was on display. Readers are given an insight into living with a constant tension when caught between two cultures and an understanding of Iraqi-Australian life. The deft use of dialogue gave the story a believability that increased the reader’s engagement. The powerful examination of religious expectation, the constraints of religion and tradition on sexuality, the confronting reality of domestic and emotional abuse and the complexity of finding your place and your sense of self in modern Australia are revealed in scenes that will linger long for all the judges.
Susannah Begbie, When Trees Fall Without Warning
This is an original and fresh story that delivers memorable insights into dysfunctional family dynamics. A novel that shows what happens when a family is forced back together and the power of greed to motivate. The writer shows great skill in creating wonderful, complex characters and a plot that reveals the best and worst of humanity. This is an expertly told, compelling and entertaining story and every judge wanted to read more.
Kate Harris, Wake
A powerful, character-driven novel showing a talented writer who confidently twisted the missing girl trope to take readers through a journey of post-traumatic healing. With a believable and flawed main character, whose life will forever be tainted by a horrific crime, this novel shows the ongoing effects of trauma and with it delivers a writer with the promise of much more.
Eva Lomski, Place Setting
The writing on show in this short story collection is breathtaking. Using the idea of what determines a sense of place to connect a disparate series of characters, this writer’s talent brings to life situations of uncertainty, fear, connection and separation as the reader is expertly steered through settings that are instantly alive.
Anne Myers, The Little Ones
An exquisitely told memoir on miscarriage, grief and mothering that is emotionally memorable. At times agonisingly honest, this is a beautifully crafted work, the writing is assured and reminded the judges of Jessie Cole and Helen Garner in its combination of talent and insight. Profound, unforgettable and a memoir that will resonate with many.
Lisa Nan Joo, The Medusa
A seemingly effortlessly crafted novel that combines a dark mystery with a contemporary thread intrigued and propelled all the judges to keep turning the page to discover answers. This writer was in complete control of the story and the combination of this beautiful writing and characters carrying mystery with them entranced all.
In announcing the shortlist, the judges had this to say:
‘We never underestimated the courage it takes to submit a work or took for granted the privilege of judging the Richell Prize. In judging each writer’s work, we are honouring not just their work but also the memory of Matt Richell, a man who continually encouraged and promoted emerging writers, and this gives even greater emotional weight to the task. It was difficult to narrow the shortlist down to six writers because of the impressive work recognised on the longlist. However, after much debate and discussion, these six shortlisted writers illustrate the quality and depth of contemporary Australian writing. All six writers display exceptional talent and storytelling power. Congratulations to you all.’
The winner of the 2022 Richell Prize will be announced on Thursday, 3 November 2022 at 10am AEDT.