blackbirdonline journalSpring 2016  Vol. 15  No. 1

Reading Loop Introduction

spacer Boris Fishman
   Oksana’s Kitchen: An Unlikely Friendship across
      Three Generations, Two Continents, and One
      Dinner Table (A Memoir, with Seasoning)

Cabell First Novelist Award 
   A Reading by Boris Fishman
   Panel Discussion

Chelsea Gillenwater
   Review | A Replacement Life, by Boris Fishman


A link to Blackbird’s “First Novelist Reading Loop” menu appears at the bottom of every First Novelist-related page. You may also return to this menu at any time by visiting Features. 


Boris Fishman is the winner of the 2015 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for A Replacement Life.

The award, which celebrated its fourteenth anniversary in 2015, recognizes one debut novel by a rising literary talent each year. It is the centerpiece of an annual day of First Novelist events, including a reading by the prizewinning novelist and a discussion panel with the author and his agent. The Blackbird First Novelist Reading Loop features a nonfiction essay by Fishman titled “Oksana’s Kitchen: An Unlikely Friendship across Three Generations, Two Continents, and One Dinner Table (A Memoir, with Seasoning)” (under Nonfiction), along with a reading of A Replacement Life by Fishman (Features). Also included are a recording and transcript of a panel discussion with Fishman and his agent Henry Dunow, moderated by former Cabell Fellow Chad Luibl (Features), as well as a review of A Replacement Life by Chelsea Gillenwater (Nonfiction).

The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, which is presented under the auspices of Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program in creative writing, was created by Tom De Haven and Laura Browder to celebrate VCU’s inaugural year-long novel workshop, the first of its kind in the nation. Initial funding for the award was provided by VCU alumnus and novelist David Baldacci. The award was named for James Branch Cabell, a prominent Richmond writer who died in 1958 and whose papers are collected in the VCU library that bears his name. Current sponsors of the award include 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.  end