VCU Cabell First Novelist Finalists

vcu cabell first novelist finalists
I shared a little about the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award when the semifinalists were announced a few weeks ago. Today the three finalists were chosen: No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel, When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek and Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman. 

Though I finished several of the semifinalists, the only finalist I’ve read is Girlchild. I’ve heard great things about all three novels, but Girlchild was one of my top five books of 2012, so I’m thrilled to see it getting more attention.

For some readers, Girlchild will have a few strikes against it from the get go. Emotionally, it’s an incredibly difficult story to get through. Rory Hendrix is easy to fall in love with, clutching her tattered library card and Girl Scout dreams. But Rory is living in a world unable to value books or achievement over survival, so her story is quick to break hearts. Girlchild also takes a unique form, more of a scrapbook of diary entries, edited memories, police records, conversations, social worker reports and school assignments than a traditional narrative. 

What some will inevitably see as negative, apparent by looking through some GoodReads reviews, is exactly what I think makes Tupelo Hassman a bold, brave first novelist deserving of recognition.  

Have you read any or all of the finalists? Who do you think should win?
  • I haven’t read any of these, but gosh I love these types of lists/awards (first novel, new writer, that sort of thing). Thanks for posting about the finalists!

  • Girlchild sounds really interesting. I will have to add it to my list!

  • We’re too funny- Girlchild is the only I haven’t read! I’m adding it to my list. No One is Here is magical realism about WWII- beautifully written but it’s more a fable and so lost some people. Captain Flint is incredibly powerful- growing up, marriage, life choices, hero worship. I loved it. I’ll be interested to see what you think of either one.

    • I adore magical realism and have had several people tell me that No One Here would be my style, so I’ve been looking out for it. Captain Flint sounds like a great one, too. I’m wanting to read them both for sure now.

  • Oh! I’d almost forgotten about Girlchild. I wanted to read that when it came out. It has slipped my mind since then. I’m off to request it right now!

  • I am putting Girlchild on my list of books to read over summer break. It sounds heartbreaking yet amazing.

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