Having consulted and discussed reviews written by volunteer readers, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award committee in the Department of English has narrowed down the list of 14 semifinalist books for the 2013 contest to three finalists:
- "No One Is Here Except All of Us," by Ramona Ausubel (pub. Riverhead Books)
- "When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man," by Nick Dybek (pub. Riverhead Books)
- "Girldchild," by Tupelo Hassman (pub. Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
All three books have been gathering acclaim. Ramona Ausubel's book, about a remote Jewish village in which the residents reimagine their history when confronted with the outbreak of WWII, was chosen as a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and has been named one of the best books of the year by The Huffington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times Book Review describes it as "fantastical and ambitious" and "infused with faith in the power of storytelling." Nick Dybeck's book takes readers to an island off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, where a boy's life is changed by his father's involvement in the fate of a local fishery. Malcolm Forbes, for The Daily Beast, calls the book "a complex and riveting tale about deception and betrayal." Tupelo Hassman's book has won the 2012 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and the 2013 Alex Award and has also appeared on a number of lists of the best books of the year. Popular author Aimee Bender says of the book, which follows a young girl trying to escape life in a trailer park by reading literature, "This amazing debut spills over with love but is still absolutely unflinching and real."
The three finalist books have been given to a panel of three judges including last year's winner, Justin Torres, for the selection of this year's winner. Stay tuned for an announcement in the coming weeks and an update on the celebratory event to be scheduled for late in the fall semester.