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Events Archive: 2016-17

VCU Cabell First Novelist Award Night


Angela Flournoy, winner of the 2016 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for The Turner House, reads from her book and is then joined by her agent and editor for a discussion of the evolution of the book from original idea to first draft to published work. A book sale, signing and reception follow the presentation.

The event is free and open to all, but please register. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad Street, West Main Street, and West Cary Street parking decks. If special accommodations are needed, or to register offline, please contact the VCU Libraries events office at (804) 828-0593.


The Cabell First Novelist Award is presented on behalf of VCU's M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program. Sponsors include the James Branch Cabell Library Associates, VCU Libraries, the VCU Department of English, Barnes & Noble @ VCU and the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences.

About the Book

Set in a once vibrant Detroit neighborhood, The Turner House covers five decades in the life of Viola and Francis Turner and their 13 children. The novel opens in 2008, the Turner children grown, the family home on Yarrow Street standing empty. Francis has long since passed, and matriarch Viola is suffering from age-related illness and must move in with her oldest son, Cha-cha. As he wrestles with integrating his mother with his own family, Cha-cha is troubled by what he vehemently believes is a ghost haunting the Turner house. The abandoned house soon acquires a second lost soul when youngest daughter Lela, homeless because of her gambling addiction, secretly takes residence. Tensions mount as it becomes clear Viola must sell the old house, now worth one-tenth of what is owed, and all the Turner children are called home to make difficult decisions. With spare, powerful prose, Flournoy tells the saga of an American family, set against the backdrop of a great city in decline.

A National Book Award Finalist and a New York Times Editor's Choice, The Turner House has received wide critical acclaim. The Washington Post calls it "an elegant and assured debut." The New York Times says Flournoy "provides the feeling of knowing a family from the inside out, as we would wish to know our own." Christina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban and King of Cuba, calls the novel "as compelling, unforgettable and beautifully told a story as I've read in ages. The real and the supernatural, the hardships and hard-won triumphs of the tightly knit, at times warring Turner clan will pull you close to this family's generous, dignified heart."

About the Author

Angela Flounoy is a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree for 2015. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, and she has written for The New York Times, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times and other publications. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California and her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has taught at the University of Iowa, the New School and Columbia University.

Image: Angela Flournoy, by LaToya T. Duncan/The Turner House book cover, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt