It is while I stitch together the Queen’s gown, on the night her eldest daughter is to die, that I first sense an uneasy power. – First line of an award winner.
Virginia Commonwealth University professor Susann Cokal, Ph.D., has received a silver medal from the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award – one of the most prestigious honors for excellence in literature aimed at young adults. The Printz Award annually honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on literary merit.
Cokal’s 2013 novel, “The Kingdom of Little Wounds,” published by Candlewick Press, is a dark and complex tale of palace intrigue in a fictional 16th century Scandinavian kingdom where the royal family is plagued by a mysterious illness, and where political machinations cast doubt on who will rule.
The novel – which is recommended for older teens and adults – received four starred reviews and was listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of 2013. In its review, The New York Times praised it for its “lewd and raucous territory for a young adult novel, almost de Sadean in its rich, sumptuous details.”
“I was stunned when I got the phone call,” Cokal said. “It was 9 a.m. on Sunday, and I thought some overzealous telemarketer was calling. Then when she told me I’d won this fabulous honor, all I could say was, ‘Wow. Wow.’ And, of course, [I] suspect[ed] it was a prank … but then when I added ‘That’s wonderful! I’m so excited!’ I heard a roomful of people clapping for me. Kind of dreamy.”
“The Kingdom” marked Cokal’s first foray into young adult fiction. She is the author of two previous novels for adults, “Mirablis” (2002) and “Breath and Bones” (2006). Cokal is an associate professor in theDepartment of English, part of VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences.
“Since its debut last fall, Susann Cokal’s novel ‘The Kingdom of Little Wounds’ has already garnered a number of impressive prizes and appears on virtually every important list in its category,” said Katherine Bassard, Ph.D., chair of VCU’s English department. “Such attention is well-deserved and promises more recognition on the way.”
Photos by: VCU News