Sixth Annual VCU First Novelist Award, 2007:
Peter Orner for The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (Little, Brown & Co.)
The Second Coming
of Mavala Shikongo
When Mavala Shikongo deserted them, the teachers at the boys’ school in Goas weren’t surprised. She was too beautiful, too powerful, and too mysterious for their tiny, remote, and arid world. They knew only one essential fact about her: She was a combat veteran of Namibia’s brutal war for independence from South Africa. When Mavala returns to Goas with her baby son, all are awed by her boldness. The teachers try hard, once again, not to fall in love with her. They fail, immediately and miserably, especially the American volunteer, Larry Koplanski.
“With this staggering debut novel, Orner has joined the first rank of American writers” (The Boston Globe).
Peter Orner earned a law degree from Northeastern University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. He is the author of a collection, Esther Stories (Houghton Mifflin, 2001), and an editor of two anthologies of narrated life stories. His honors include the Rome Prize in Literature, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His second novel, Love and Shame and Love, will be published in November 2011 by Little, Brown & Co. A long-time faculty member at San Francisco State University, he is currently a visiting professor at the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.
Judges: Karen Fisher (author of A Sudden Country and recipient of the 2006 VCU First Novelist Award), David L. Robbins (author of Broken Jewel), and Ward Teft (owner of Chop Suey Books, Richmond, VA)
Finalists: Justin Tussing for The Best People in the World (HarperCollins), Marie Arana for Cellophane (The Dial Press), and Peter C. Brown for The Fugitive Wife (W.W. Norton)