Emerging Writers’ Festival, along with Hachette Australia and the Richell family, are honoured to present The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers for 2023, supported by Simpsons Solicitors. After receiving over 700 entries, we are delighted to announce the five writers on this year’s shortlist.

The 2023 shortlisted writers are:

Olivia De Zilva, When I Was Your Dog

Written in a fresh, engaging and open manner this creative non-fiction immediately captures 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 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 story of six generations of a Nyungar family. Original and fresh, it plays with time and narrative techniques as it deals with the complicated legacies and injuries of colonialism, denial and displacement in a compelling family saga that promises much for the reader. The judges were impressed with its ambition and feel this will become an important novel.

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.

The writers on the shortlist have been judged on the first three chapters of their submitted work, along with a synopsis outlining the direction of the proposed work and details about how the author’s writing career would benefit from winning the Prize.

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 will receive $10,000 in prize money, to be donated by Hachette Australia, along with a 12-month mentorship with one of Hachette Australia’s publishers. Hachette Australia will work with the winning writer to develop their manuscript with the first option to consider the finished work and the shortlisted entries for publication.

The countdown is now on for our shortlisted writers, with the winner of the Prize announced on 2 November.

Hachette Australia and Hannah Richell would like to thank The Emerging Writers’ Festival who have worked with them to make this Prize a reality. The Emerging Writers’ Festival would also like to thank Simpsons Solicitors for assisting them financially with the administration of the Prize.

Learn more about the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers here.