Justin Torres has won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, which honors an outstanding debut novel published during a calendar year. His winning book, We the Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), which has been called “a gorgeous, deeply humane book” (Daniel Alarcón), is a coming-of-age novel about three brothers growing up "amidst the chaotic and destructive love of their working-class parents." Here are but a few words of praise for We the Animals:
“Justin Torres' debut novel is a welterweight champ of a book. It's short but it's also taut, elegant, lean — and it delivers a knockout.” —NPR's Weekend Edition
“This brief but extraordinary novel defies easy categorization, but in it Torres demonstrates a mastery of prose seldom encountered in first books. It’s an exhilarating beginning for a young writer.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“A strobe light of a story...I wanted more of Torres's haunting word-torn world...” —New York Times Book Review
“Telling the story of three mixed race brothers growing up in New York state, Justin Torres’ debut novel, We the Animals, is a quick, raw, punchy read....memorable and vivid.” —Dallas Morning News
Torres, who is the first Latino writer to win this award, will be honored at the VCU Cabell First Novelist Festival at Virginia Commonwealth University on November 8, 2012.
Nearly 100 novels were submitted for this year’s prize which is now in its eleventh year. A university-wide panel of readers in addition to readers from the Richmond community reduced the list to 12 semifinalists and ultimately three finalists. The finalists were then considered by a panel of judges consisting of David Gordon, winner of the 2011 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for The Serialist; Maya Payne Smart, writer and chair of James River Writers; and bestselling author Tama Janowitz.
The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award celebrates the VCU MFA in Creative Writing Program’s year-long novel workshop, the first in the nation and one of the few still in existence. The winning author receives a $5,000 cash prize. Travel expenses and lodging also are provided for the author and his or her agent and editor to attend the VCU Cabell First Novelist Festival, a series of events that focus on the creation, publication and promotion of a debut novel.
Co-sponsors of the award and the festival are the VCU Department of English, the VCU MFA Program in Creative Writing, the James Branch Cabell Library Associates, the VCU Friends of the Library, VCU Libraries, the VCU Honors College, Barnes & Noble @ VCU and the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences.
IN OTHER NEWS…
◙ Over at the El Paso Times, Rigoberto González reviews Eduardo C. Corral’s debut poetry collection Slow Lightning (Yale University Press) noting that Corral is the first Latino to win the Yale Series of Younger Poets award in its 106-year history. González observes, in part: “The sophistication of Slow Lightning … is that its stunning imagery, its serious treatment of craft, as well as its homage to a Southwestern culture and landscape that predates its life as a U.S. territory, will endow the book with a timeless quality. This is indeed a classic in the making.” You may read the full review here, and you may visit Corral’s official website here.
◙ Remember that on August 28, Reyna Grande’s new memoir, The Distance Between Us, will be released by Simon & Schuster. It has already garnered raves including a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly. And Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of Enrique’s Journey, offers this: “In this poignant memoir, Reyna Grande skillfully depicts another side of the immigrant experience—the hardships and heartbreaks of the children who are left behind. Through her brutally honest firsthand account of growing up in Mexico without her parents, Grande sheds light on the often overlooked consequence of immigration—the disintegration of a family.”
◙ Over at The Independent Publisher website, Ariel Bronson offers an article entitled “Indie Groundbreaking Publisher: The University of Arizona Press” where she notes, in part:◙ That’s all for this Monday. In the meantime, enjoy the intervening posts from mis compadres y comadres here on La Bloga. And remember: ¡Lea un libro!
It’s no secret that the past several years have been difficult for university presses. It has been a challenge for many presses to stay afloat and adapt to new industry standards while university budgets shrink. A recent article in The New York Times states that “half a dozen universities have closed or suspended their presses over the past three years...as tightening budgets have complicated efforts by university presses to keep up with the changing publishing marketplace.”
The University of Arizona Press (the UA Press) is a university press with its head way above water as it continues to thrive in today’s publishing market and economy. By continually expanding its catalog with quality works about Arizona and the Southwest borderlands – and with the awards to prove it – the UA Press has shown that it isn’t going anywhere.
Ariel Bronson is a senior at the University of Michigan studying as a dual concentrator in English and Communication Studies. She worked as an editorial intern at Sleeping Bear Press in 2011 and is currently an Online Content Editor at LEAD Magazine on Michigan’s campus. You may read her entire article here.