Cabell First Novelist Award texts appear in different sections of Blackbird but are organized in this alternative menu, a featured reading loop allowing easy navigation of related materials.
A link to Blackbird’s “First Novelist Reading Loop” menu appears at the bottom of every First Novelist-related page. You may also return to this menu at any time by visiting Features.
First Novelist Reading Loop
Now in its eighth year, the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award was created by Laura Browder and Tom De Haven to celebrate the university’s year-long novel workshop, the first of its kind in the nation. Designed to recognize a rising new talent in the literary world who has successfully published a first novel, the award is presented annually at the Cabell First Novelist Festival. The festival highlights the journey a new writer undertakes from idea to publication, with a focus on those elements that make the experience unique. During the three-day festival, the newly published author, the author’s agent, and the book’s editor participate in a series of events concerning the process of the creation, publication, and promotion of a first novel.
The 2009 winner of the Award is Deb Olin Unferth for Vacation. The Blackbird First Novelist Reading Loop includes a selection from Vacation (Fiction), a reading by and conversation with Unferth (Features), an excerpt from a coauthored graphic-novel-in-progress (Gallery), as well as a review of Vacation (Nonfiction).
The Cabell First Novelist Award is presented on behalf of the university’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. Sponsors include the Department of English, James Branch Cabell Library Associates, the Friends of the Library, the VCU Libraries, the Honors College, Barnes & Noble Bookstore, and the College of Humanities and Sciences. Initial funding for the Award came from alumnus and novelist David Baldacci. The award is named in honor of Richmond novelist James Branch Cabell, whose papers are in the collection of the VCU library that bears his name.