Dawnie Walton, winner of the 2022 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, participates in a reading as well as a Q&A session about the writing and publishing of her book on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
The event is free and open to all and will be held in person but will also be live streamed through Zoom. The in-person location will be James Branch Cabell Library, Room 303, 901 Park Ave., Richmond, Va. 23219. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad Street, West Main Street and West Cary Street parking decks.
Please register to attend in person or online. Registration opens soon. For questions or accommodations, please contact the VCU Libraries Events Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 828-0593.
About the Author
DAWNIE WALTON is a writer, editor, and author of the novel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, winner of the Aspen Words Literary Prize, longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and named one of the best books of 2021 by The Washington Post, NPR, Esquire, and former U.S. President Barack Obama, among others. Her work explores identity, place, and the influence of pop culture. Formerly an editor at Essence and Entertainment Weekly, she has received fellowships in fiction from MacDowell and Tin House, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her writing has appeared in Oxford American, Bon Appetit, NPR, Lithub, and Black Ballad. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
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.
Twenty First Annual Award
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev (Simon & Schuster)
By Dawnie Walton
Walton tells an electrifying tale about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour.
According to the publisher’s official synopsis of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev:
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.
In early 70s New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.
Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.
Judges: The 2021 First Novelist Winner; Raven Leilani, students from the VCU M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program; and the Cabell First Novelist Award committee
Finalists: Daniel Loedel for Hades, Argentina (Penguin Random House) and Kirstin Valdez Quade for The Five Wounds (Norton)