Adelaide-based writer Sam Coley has won the 2017 Richell prize for emerging writers for his novel State Highway One. The novel tells the story about siblings dealing with grief while road-tripping along New Zealand’s main highway.
The manuscript was one of among 579 entries to win $10,000 prize money and a year-long mentorship with Hachette Australia. Also, for the first time in the prize’s history, judges awarded a commendation and a 12-month mentorship to a second writer from the shortlist of 20, to Michelle Barraclough for her novel As I Am.
Judges described ‘State Highway One as a captivating read that explores loss and what it really means to come home, reckoning with the past and the challenge of the future ahead while travelling the length of New Zealand along State Highway One. The sense of place and the slow break-down of the lead character’s mental and emotional state makes for a truly gripping read. Sam’s writing feels fresh and modern and is bursting with both heart and humour.’
The Richell prize was established in 2015 to assist emerging writers of adult fiction and narrative nonfiction and is awarded to unpublished writers of any age. The prize is judged blind, and writers who submit do not need to have finished the manuscript.