Sucker by Lawrence Leung and Ben Chessell

Book cover for Sucker by Lawrence Leung and Ben Chessell

Sucker by Lawrence Leung and Ben Chessell (RKP Productions with Jason Byrne Productions)

Judges' Comments

A fictionalised Lawrence is a seventeen-year-old Chinese-Australian whose parents long only for their son to study medicine. He shatters their dream when he is caught cheating in a high school examination. Escaping shame, Lawrence travels north. On the road he is taken under the wing of ‘the Professor’, a fading card sharp, and the old faker’s intriguing daughter, Sarah. Like the great con artists of old, the trio proceed to fleece the unsuspecting in town after town. Lawrence learns to embrace this world of cheating and life on the lam while struggling to find his footing amid the torments of adolescent infatuation.

Sucker is a neatly-plotted and amiable tale underscored by a touching melancholy. The script exhibits the joy in laconic yarn-spinning reminiscent of Henry Lawson or Mark Twain. It boasts a playful approach to narrative conventions without ever undermining our connection to its memorable, multifaceted characters. Amid the fun and games, it is surprisingly wise on matters of identity, trust and love.