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GREENVILLE, NC—Brad Field of Wilmington is the winner of the 2015 Doris Betts Fiction Prize for his story “Achmed’s Lesson.” Field will receive a prize of $250 from the North Carolina Writers' Network, and his story will be published in the North Carolina Literary Review’s 25th issue in 2016.
A playwright, drama anthology editor, and retired university English professor, having taught at Wayne State University in Detroit for the majority of his career, Brad Field lives in Wilmington, then spends summers on Lake Michigan.
NCLR Fiction Editor Liza Wieland selected Field’s story from ten finalists, saying, “I admire 'Achmed's Lesson' for its cultural critique certainly, but also for the deceptive simplicity of the writing. To me, it read like the best sort of translation. The meaning is crystal clear, but below the surface of the narration, the original simmers in subtle invitation. I think it's quite remarkable to capture this quality in a story written in English; I felt both comfortably at home and transported to a world I didn't—but wanted to—know.”
Wieland also selected “Eminent Domain” by Kathryn Etters Lovatt for second place and publication, applying Faulkner’s famous lines, “‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ ‘Eminent Domain’ illustrates the truth of this statement through deft description and the painful but compelling resilience of the first person narrator, Amy. The ending is the very definition of bittersweet, and will stay in my mind for a long time.” Lovatt, who has a vacation home in Southport, but lives most of the year in Camden, SC, is also a former winner and a finalist in previous Betts competitions.
A record 121 stories were submitted to this year’s competition. The other finalists are Heather Adams of Raleigh for “White Iris,” Debra Madaris Efird of Harrisburg for “Palette of Love,” Lana Hendershott of Hendersonville for “Kind of Crazy,” Debra Lee of Rocky Mount for “Dale Earnhardt and the Rapture,” Ian Oeschger of Wilmington for “Lowcountry Boil,” Denise Sherman of Raleigh for “The Color Wheel,” Robert Wallace of Durham for “The Disobedience of Love,” and Jude Whelchel of Asheville for “Body Talk Soft, Body Talk Loud.”
The annual Doris Betts Fiction Prize honors the late novelist and short-story writer Doris Betts, and is sponsored by the non-profit North Carolina Writers’ Network, the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.
Published since 1992 at East Carolina University, the North Carolina Literary Review has won numerous awards and citations, most recently the 2014 Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. Fiction Editor Liza Wieland is the author of three collections of short stories and four novels, including Land of Enchantment, just out this year.
A two-year subscription to NCLR will include the 2015 issue, featuring the winner from the 2014 Betts competition, as well as the 2016 issue, featuring Field’s winning story from this year’s competition. Find subscription information at http://www.nclr.ecu.edu/subscriptions.
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ASHEVILLE—Mesha Maren of southern West Virginia is the winner of the 2015 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize for her short story “Chokedamp.” She will receive $1,000 and possible publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.
Final Judge Lee Smith, a 2008 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, chose Maren’s story from more than 220 entries—a record number.
“It is very realistic, a big story,” Lee said. “I was impressed by the complexity of theme, situation, and the brothers’ relationship; the narrative voice rang true, and the writing was wonderful throughout.”
Mesha Maren is a fiction writer whose work appears in Tin House, The Oxford American, Hobart, The Barcelona Review, and Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial. She is the recipient of a 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, an Appalachian Writing Fellowship from LMU University, and a residency fellowship from the Ucross Foundation.
Elizabeth Oliver of Apex and Roz Spafford were named Honorable Mentions for their stories “Just Wait” and “Painting the Door,” respectively. The stories will also be considered for publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.
The Thomas Wolfe Review is the official journal of The Thomas Wolfe Society, publishing articles, features, tributes, and reviews about Wolfe and his circle. It also features bibliographical material, notes, news, and announcements of interest to Society members.
To join the Thomas Wolfe Society and participate in yearly conferences and other activities, go to www.thomaswolfe.org. You can also follow Wolfe news on Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, and other media.
The 2015 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize was facilitated by The Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The Great Smokies Writing Program is a joint effort between the UNC Asheville departments of Literature and Language, Creative Writing, and the Office of Professional Education. The program offers opportunities for writers of all levels to join a supportive learning community in which their skills and talents can be explored, practiced, and forged under the careful eye of professional writers.
Final Judge Lee Smith is a New York Times bestselling author and longtime professor of creative writing at North Carolina State University. Her novels include Fair and Tender Ladies, The Last Girls, and most recently, Guests on Earth. She is the recipient of two O. Henry Awards for her short stories, two Sir Walter Raleigh Awards, the North Carolina Award for Literature, the Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction, and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, among many others. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize opens for submissions annually on December 1 and runs through January 30. It is open to all writers, regardless of geographic location or prior publication. Submitted stories must be unpublished and not exceed twelve double-spaced pages.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.