We are thrilled, along with the Richell family and in partnership with the Hachette Australia and Simpsons Solicitors, to announce Alex Sawyer as the recipient of the ninth annual Richell Prize for Emerging Writers.
Alex Sawyer is a psychologist, a firefighter, a father and a short story writer. He has been shortlisted for residency prizes from Writers SA and was runner up in the Peter Carey short story prize in 2022.
Alex’s winning work is Rat Daniels, which he has been working on since 2021. This is a beautifully told work of fiction that explores a friendship between two lonely boys who bond through their love of nature.
Rat Daniels focuses on the lives of Jimmy and Rat, and the story of their childhood in Eden’s Ridge, a stretch of hillside farms and hidden valleys on the outskirts of Adelaide, slowly succumbing to the tides of suburbia. But as they grow up, both young men are on different paths, one academic and the other a life of petty crime that will see their friendship tested and reckless decisions made. An ultimate act of violence sees Rat charged with murder and Jimmy forced to choose whose side he is on … knowing that, potentially, Rat’s fate is in his hands. The judges all responded to Sawyer’s confident writing and the powerful storyline, and they were united in their belief that Sawyer’s work has the potential to become an Australian classic in the vein of Mark Brandi and Tim Winton.
Emerging Writers’ Festival would like to extend congratulations to all the shortlisted writers for this year’s Prize on a commendable achievement. We can’t wait to see where the winner, Alex Sawyer, and all the shortlisted writers will take their burgeoning literary careers beyond this year’s Richell Prize for Emerging Writers.