Events Archive: 2020-21

VCU Cabell First Novelist Award Night


John Englehardt, winner of the 2020 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for Bloomland, participates in a Q&A session about the writing and publishing of his book.

The event is free and open to all, but registration is required. For questions or accommodations, please contact the VCU Libraries Events Office at

Video Recordings

About the Book

Bloomland deftly tells the aftermath story of a shooting at a fictional southern university, following three characters and the larger community over two decades, and is told in a provocative, implicating second-person style point of view.

According to the publisher's official synopsis:

Bloomland opens during finals week at a fictional southern university, when a student walks into the library with his roommate's semi-automatic rifle and opens fire.

In this richly textured debut, John Englehardt explores how the origin and aftermath of the shooting impacts the lives of three characters: a disillusioned student, a grieving professor and a young man whose valuation of fear and disconnection funnels him into the role of the aggressor. As the community wrestles with the fallout, Bloomland interrogates social and cultural dysfunction in a nation where mass violence has become all too familiar.

Profound and deeply nuanced, Bloomland is a dazzling debut that walks in step with We Need to Talk About Kevin and the novels of Denis Johnson, Rachel Kushner and Tom McAllister.

About the Author

John Englehardt is a writer and educator from the Pacific Northwest. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arkansas and currently teaches writing classes at Hugo House. His work has recently appeared in The Southern Review, Entropy and Vol.1 Brooklyn. He lives in Seattle with his wife and dog.

Buy the Book

Bloomland is available for purchase online through Barnes & Noble @ VCU.


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.

Image: Bloomland Cover, courtesy of Dzanc Books