Reviewed by Simon McDonald
Kathryn Hind’s Hitch — the winner of the inaugural Penguin Literary Prize — is a decidedly gripping, harrowing and unflinching tale of grit and perseverance, about a young woman hitchhiking across Australia, desperately trying to outrun her traumatic past, whose courage and vulnerability are irresistible and believable. It is a stunning debut from a writer of considerable talent and promise.
Hitch begins with Amelia and her dog, Lucy, walking the Stuart Highway, counting the posts dotted along its length, ears piqued for the sound of oncoming vehicles, poised to hitch out a thumb and stretch a smile across her lips. We are immediately thrust into her fraught reality; without a ride, she won’t survive for long in the open; but whose to say the harshness of the outback isn’t preferable to whoever awaits in the driver’s seat of the first vehicle to stop by her side?
The initial experience of Hitch is sobering and savage, and its final effect is emotionally shattering, despite glimpses of tenderness, goodness and beauty. The novel is relentless, but in the best possible way, pushing readers through the emotional wringer but also compelling them to read on through the power of the prose. Quite simply a must read.