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VCU Cabell First Novelist Award Night


Jade Chang, winner of the 2017 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for The Wangs vs. the World, 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. For special accommodations, 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

The Wangs vs. the World is a twist on two quintessentially American stories—the road trip and the rags-to-riches immigrant tale. Chang's outstanding debut novel opens with patriarch Charles Wang's fall from grace. His once mighty cosmetics empire belongs to the bank, along with the family's beautiful Bel-Air mansion and everything in it. His trip across the country is not a quest, but a journey to collect his teenage children dumped from elite schools they can no longer afford and seek refuge at his daughter's home on the opposite coast. The story is told from from the alternating perspectives of Charles, his second wife Barbra and his three children. Charles is brash and impulsive, Barbra bitter and withdrawn. High schooler Grace is a successful style blogger; college student Andrew dreams of being a comedian, and eldest daughter Saina is a successful Manhattan artist now in hiding at a rambling house in the Catskills after a show that offended the entire art world. Chang writes with humor and an eye for the ridiculous. She manages to do the important work of exploring identity and upending Chinese-American stereotypes while deftly dissecting the disastrous financial crisis of 2008. Both hilarious and heartrending, The Wangs vs. the World tells the story of a family scraped clean of everything they hold dear, and their brave scramble to salvage their lives.

A New York Times Editor's Choice and also chosen as one of Amazon's Best Books of 2016, The Wangs vs. the World received critical acclaim. Chang, says The Atlantic, "goes for broke with a comic ending that showcases the reconciliation of a father and his children, of dreams and reality, of Old World and New." NPR calls the debut novel "unrelentingly fun, but it's also raw and profane—a story of fierce pride, fierce anger and even fiercer love." The New York Times says, "In Chang's compassionate and bright-eyed novel, she proves that struggling with [Chinese-American] identity can at least be funny and strange, especially when you struggle together with family."

About the Author

Jade Chang has worked as an arts and culture journalist and editor for news venues and publications like the BBC, Metropolis, Glamour and The Los Angeles Times Magazine. She was recently an editor at Goodreads. Her first paying job after college was as a researcher for the J. Peterman catalog. She is the recipient of a Sundance Arts Journalist fellowship, the AIGA/Winterhouse Design Criticism Award and a Squaw Valley Writers Workshop scholarship. She lives in Los Angeles.

Image: Jade Chang, by Teresa Flowers