Melbourne writer Aisling Smith recently won the coveted Richell prize for emerging writers for 2020 with the judges describing her work as “assured and evocative”. According to a report, the prize, which is co-presented by publishing company Hachette Australia, Guardian Australia, and the Emerging Writers Festival, received more than 800 entries.
Speaking on the honor, the 32-year-old author was quoted as saying, “Without a doubt, this is the biggest thing to happen to me professionally. I’m super grateful and humbled by the whole thing.” Aisling Smith has been inspired by AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book, giving her a preview of magical realism. “[Byatt] talks about characters walking around with this awareness that things have visible as well as invisible forms. I like this idea that folklore, the supernatural, the fantastical, gives rise to different possibilities for [ways of] seeing the world that we live in,” she was quoted as saying.
Her novel Petrichor traces the journey of a man Benjamin and the way his family falls apart as seen by the women in his life. Applauding the work, the judges said, it revealed, “an assured and evocative new Australian literary voice using the disintegration of a marriage to explore powerful themes around communication, race, culture, and family”.
The prize was instituted in 2014 in memory of Hachette Australia’s CEO, Matt Richell, who passed away that year.