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Aisling Smith wins 2020 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers

12/01/2020 3:05 PM
Aisling Smith wins 2020 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers

Victorian author Aisling Smith has won the 2020 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, for her novel Petrichor

Smith was awarded the prize during a virtual event in partnership with The Guardian Australia, The Emerging Writers' Festival, and Hachette Australia.

The Richell Prize aims to unearth, support and nurture new Australian writing talent. As part of the prize Smith was awarded $10 000 in prize money, as well as a 12-month mentorship with one of Hachette Australia's publishers. This year the prize received over 800 entries, and Petrichor was chosen from a shortlist of five entries, which, notably, were all by Victorian authors. 

The Richell Prize judges said that the winning novel, Petrichor,

'announces an assured and evocative new Australian literary voice. Smith, using the disintegration of a marriage, explores powerful themes around communication, race, culture and family. Aisling’s writing is evocative and sophisticated, and the story is one all the judges want to read much more of.’

In accepting the prize, Aisling Smith said,

'It’s been a year of such widespread isolation for everyone. Certainly, that’s been my own experience of the pandemic. And this has been echoed in the experience of writing, where an already solitary activity has had to proceed with very little engagement with community, often feeling directionless or even as though you are writing into a void. Against this backdrop, winning the Richell Prize feels to me like a moment of real connection.’

The Guardian Australia has shared an extract of Petrichor which you can read here, as well as a profile on the author which you can read here