Ling Ma wins the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for ‘Severance’

Portrait of Ling Ma.

Ling Ma’s book, “Severance,” tells the survival story of an isolated young woman in New York City who is the last person to abandon her office job after an infectious disease originating in China sweeps across the globe.

Ling Ma has won the 2019 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, which honors an outstanding debut novel published during the preceding calendar year. Her winning book, “Severance,” published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, tells the survival story of an isolated young woman in New York City who is the last person to abandon her office job after an infectious disease originating in China sweeps across the globe.

Ma will receive the award Nov. 12 at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she will give a reading and participate in a roundtable and panel discussion with VCU students and the public. The event will be held at the James Branch Cabell Library Lecture Hall (Room 303) at 7 p.m. For additional details, visit www.firstnovelist.vcu.edu/event/.

Ma was one of three finalists for the prize, now in its 18th year. The other finalists were Lydia Kiesling for “The Golden State” and Andrew Martin for “Early Work.”

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