Hachette Australia, along with the Richell family, is honoured to present the shortlist for the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers for 2023, in partnership with the Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF).
Ruby-Rose Pivet-Marsh, Artistic Director and Joint CEO, Emerging Writers’ Festival said: ‘In my time at EWF, administering the Richell Prize has been one of my greatest privileges. The talent that this prize unearths is truly astounding, year after year. The long and shortlistees should be nothing short of proud of their phenomenal achievement. I am sure we will be seeing (and reading) much more from all of them in years to come.
Fiona Hazard, Hachette Group Publishing Director said: ‘It seems to me that every year the quality of the Richell Prize entries increases and this year proves this yet again. I want to thank the initial readers who read through the 700 entries to help decide our twenty longlisted writers. From this longlist, the judges have managed to decide on a shortlist of five writers whose exceptional storytelling stood out. Hachette, the Richell family and the Emerging Writers’ Festival would like to thank every writer who entered the Prize and helped again make the judges’ decision a tough one.’
Every entry was read by two readers before the judging panel – Nadia Johansen, editor and writer; Lindy Jones, senior buyer at Abbey’s Bookshop; David Parritt, Product and Marketing Manager at BookPeople; Hannah Richell, bestselling author and Vanessa Radnidge, Hachette Head of Literary – were presented with the longlist of twenty writers.
After reading through the longlist carefully, the judges, chaired by Fiona Hazard, met to carefully consider all twenty entries and discuss the strengths of each work. This year the judges have selected five writers for the 2023 Richell Prize shortlist.
They are, in alphabetical order by surname:
Olivia De Zilva, When I Was Your Dog
Written in a fresh, engaging and open manner this creative non-fiction immediately captured the judges’ attention and plunged them into the energies of an extended Chinese family making a life for themselves in Adelaide. The violence committed upon the young protagonist is heartbreakingly senseless, and the long-lasting effects of direct racism are relayed without self-pity or excuse. Paradoxically, in losing her voice once, the writer has found and honoured it in this vivid expression of self.
Hannah Goldstein, A Distant Shimmering Thing
This novel is an unforgettable exploration of friendships, guilt and chronic illness. The insights into the complications of illness, both physical and emotional, and how strength can be expressed in different ways, are finely rendered and all the judges thought the writing style was quietly confident and emotionally impactful.
Victoria Manifold, The Election of the Mayor
An experimental and ambitious work, in both technique and storylines, this novel captured the judges’ attention immediately and drew comparisons with Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. Multi-voiced and fragmentary, it skillfully left gaps for the reader’s imagination to wander through. It promises to entertain with its strong writing and imagery.
Luisa Mitchell, Blood Gum Weeping
There is a powerful energy in this family saga that covers six generations of a Nyungar family. It explores the ways we make and understand history, as families, and as a nation. Culturally grounded, it artfully plays with time and narrative techniques as it deals with the complicated legacies and injuries of colonialism. Full of love, intrigue and insight, this story will entertain and challenge the reader.
Alex Sawyer, Rat Daniels
From the beginning, the judges’ felt they were in the hands of an accomplished storyteller. Whilst it has echoes of Jasper Jones or Wimmera it does not feel derivative or unoriginal. The writing is striking and absorbing, the details finely rendered, the setting perfectly captures its location in the Adelaide Hills. The skillful depiction of a deeply bonded friendship between two lonely boys has the potential to become a classic, its themes timeless and beautifully and poignantly explored.
In announcing the shortlist, the judges had this to say: ‘The Richell Prize, created in the memory of Matt Richell, has become an important literary prize that encourages and supports emerging Australian writers. To judge this award is both an honour and an exciting glimpse into the talent and creative energy of unpublished Australian writers. We all love the boost it gives to a writer to have their work acknowledged and though it was a hard task to narrow the shortlist down to five we feel these five writers stood out because of their confidence, storytelling and literary talent. Congratulations to you all.’
The winner of the 2023 Richell Prize will be announced on Thursday 2 November 2023.