Reading Loop Introduction
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Helene Wecker is the winner of the 2014 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for The Golem and the Jinni.
The award, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2011, recognizes one debut novel by a rising literary talent each year. It is the centerpiece of an annual day of First Novelist events, including a reading by the prizewinning novelist and a discussion panel with the author, her agent, and the book’s editor.
The Blackbird First Novelist Reading Loop features an excerpt from The Golem and the Jinni (under Fiction), along with a reading by and a conversation with Helene Wecker on craft, inspiration, and writing from personal history (Features). Also included are a recording and transcript of a panel discussion with Wecker and her agent Sam Stoloff, moderated by former Cabell Fellow Shannon O’Neill (Features), as well as a review of The Golem and the Jinni by Chelsea Gillenwater (Nonfiction).
The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, which is presented under the auspices of Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program in creative writing, was created by Tom De Haven and Laura Browder to celebrate VCU’s inaugural year-long novel workshop, the first of its kind in the nation. Initial funding for the award was provided by VCU alumnus and novelist David Baldacci. The award was named for James Branch Cabell, a prominent Richmond writer who died in 1958 and whose papers are collected in the VCU library that bears his name.
Current sponsors of the award include the VCU Department of English, the VCU MFA program in creative writing, the James Branch Cabell Library Associates, the VCU Friends of the Library, VCU Libraries, the VCU Honors College, Barnes & Noble at VCU, and the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences.