11 September 2020

Announcing the 2020 Shortlist for The Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers

participants at the 2019 prize day laughing and smiling
Shortlisted writers at the 2019 prize day. Photo by Connor Tomas O’Brien.

Express Media is delighted to announce the shortlist for The 2020 Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers.

Now in its fourteenth year, The Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers is a unique developmental award that recognises excellence in creative writing from Australian secondary school-aged students.

Express Media and Hachette Australia are thrilled by the number of entries and by the incredible calibre of the writing submitted. Over 600 submissions were received across three categories; fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry, with 15 young writers from across Australia making the shortlist.

The shortlist is decided by external judges appointed by Express Media, with the winners in each category selected by the Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers mentor, Will Kostakis, and representatives from Hachette Australia.

Our judges had the following comments on this years’ submissions:

“The entries to this year’s prize were exceptionally strong and engaging across all three categories. I was deeply impressed by the pathos, experimentation, tenderness and vivid details in many of the pieces, whether tackling the apocalypse, tracing romantic entanglements or testifying to the myriad experiences of navigating the world as a young person. I look forward to reading the work of many of these emerging writers in the years to come.” Abigail Fisher

“I was really struck by the passion and energy that inhabited the submissions, an energy that manifested itself in immersive expressions, experimental forms. What really impressed me was everyone’s ability to inhabit a tone that was so sustained; from someone fleeing an apocalypse, to an aging star sitting on the street. This energy doesn’t shy away from dialogues about parents, teachers, growing up, growing old, and so many submissions explored these concepts with attention and humour.” Wen-Juenn Lee

“I was so impressed by how fearlessly these young writers tackled their chosen topics. We saw high fantasy and science fiction adventures, insightful allegories for problems the world is facing, characters exploring their identities, experimentation with form, and much more. Congratulations to everyone who submitted – keep on writing!” Kareena Dhaliwal

“It is always a special honour to be trusted with someone’s writing. This longlist features some beautifully vulnerable writing of those who engaged with the question of who they are, all mixed in with the fantastic, curiosity for the world, and astute observations about our society. I see a bright future for these writers!” Clare Miller

The 2020 Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers shortlist is:


  • Soledad Musk (VIC) – My Mother Wanda 
  • Felicity Ye (NSW) – Whites & Yolks 
  • Xiyu Zhang (NSW) – Shadows in the Cave 
  • Ella Pilson (VIC) – Fairyfloss Lipgloss
  • Aurora Carli (VIC) – Space Race – a montage


  • Bethany Tan (WA) – Sunday Noodles 
  • Tasmin Engelhard (VIC) – The Art of Giving 
  • Simon Poelina (WA) – Finding my liyan   
  • Jhermayne Ubalde (WA) – An asthmatic, who’s been reading Etgar Keret, learns how to breathe
  • Zainab Safi (NSW) – Cigarettes & Gasoline


  • Claire Missingham (VIC) – threnody
  • Munira Tabassum Ahmed (NSW) – There Is An Intersection Of Two Selves At Dawn
  • Caitlin Mayo (QLD) – Mosquito
  • Mariam Abbas (NSW) – On fearing the uncertainty of it all (who we are and who I might become)
  • Aleksandr Little (QLD) – a kriol love call

Our fifteen shortlisted writers will receive a YA book pack courtesy of Hachette Australia, be invited to participate in an exclusive workshop with Express Media tutors and a special Q&A event with prize Mentor Will Kostakis. They will also be showcased at The National Young Writers Festival as a part of their Younger Young Writers Stream, where we will announce the 2020 winners!

Prize winners will also receive a $500 cash prize, courtesy of Hachette Australia, publication of their work on the Express Media website plus their names and an acknowledgement printed in Voiceworks, Australia’s premier youth literary journal.

The prize will be announced and presented in a special event at the National Young Writers Festival on Sunday 4th of October, 2020.

Congratulations to all our shortlisted writers!


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