The remarkable story of Australian literature’s newest star

11 June 2019

A 12-times rejected manuscript that was abandoned to gather dust by a first-time novelist, has now hit bookshelves around the country after winning a prestigious literary prize.

The novel Hitch by Australian National University (ANU) PhD scholar Kathryn Hind won the inaugural Penguin Literary Prize in 2018 and has been released in bookshops and online.

The book is the result of a remarkable journey that at one stage saw Hind set the manuscript aside to work on other projects after a long and disappointing cycle of rejections and redrafts.

"It was rejected by all the publishers who read it. I just couldn't make any headway with it," said Ms Hind of the ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics.

"I couldn't work out how to make it the way I wanted it to be. I decided to start something new but my thoughts were never far from Hitch."

Hind said that while the rejections from publishers were always difficult to come to terms with, she never lost faith that Hitch could be a success.

In 2017 Penguin Random House Australia launched the Penguin Literary Prize looking to unearth new talented Australian authors. Hitch was one of more than 400 submissions and was eventually named the inaugural winner, a moment Hind said has changed her life.

"It was a strange feeling," she said.

"I was at home by myself when I got the news, and I just couldn't believe it.

"When I hung up I just sat by myself for a while. The book was written in solitude and I just wanted to stay with it for a while to let the news sink in, which it still hasn't.

"Then I frantically got on the phone to friends and family whilst wildly jumping around."

Hitch tells the story of Amelia, a young woman hitchhiking around Australia with her dog Lucy. Amelia's grieving the recent loss of her mother, and when someone emerges from her past who she doesn't want to face, she decides to hit the road.

Hind, who Penguin Random House Australia describe as a "shining new light on the Australian literary scene", uses the book to explore themes of grief, trauma, consent and the realities of womanhood.

The book is available for order online and in book stores from 4 June. Hind will be discussing Hitch at an event at ANU on 13 June: http://slll.cass.anu.edu.au/events/conversation-kathryn-hind