Final judge Wiley Cash chose "Mother" from more than 200 submissions.
"This atmospheric, haunting story is a portrait of childhood grief and the ways in which children wade through it," Cash said. "Rooster, a young boy who cares for his dying mother while yearning for the mysteries of the world outside their home, is sensitive and beautifully drawn. The writing reminded me of the best of Elizabeth Spencer and Donald Ray Pollock."
Virginia Ewing Hudson, cellist turned writer, now spends far more time crafting fiction than practicing. Her story "Silo" won the Women’s Writing Award from Firefly Ridge Magazine, and also was a previous finalist for the Thomas Wolf Fiction Prize. "Silo," like this year’s winning story, "Mother," is an excerpt from a novel, for which Virginia is seeking publication. Her essays, stories, and poems, have appeared in The Colton Review, Vision and Voice, and The News & Observer in Raleigh. Virginia teaches cello at Meredith College, and lives in Raleigh with her husband, Bruce, and a small but merry band of cats.
Jane Shlensky recieved an honorable mention for her story "Clean Burn."
"Waitsel fancies himself a fire-conjuring Robin Hood," Cash said, "and the reader doesn't know whether to respect him or fear him. This story was as brief as a match strike, but its portrait of small-town life and the lives that go unnoticed is seared into my memory."
Jane Shlensky's poetry can be found in Writer's Digest, Pinesong, Kakalak, Southern Poetry Anthology: NC, and others. Her short fiction pieces have been finalists in Press 53, Doris Betts, and Thomas Wolfe contests. Her chapbook, Barefoot on Gravel (2016), is available from Finishing Line Press.
This year's final judge, Wiley Cash, is The New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy, which are both available from William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers. His forthcoming novel is The Last Ballad. Wiley is writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. A native of North Carolina, he lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two young daughters.
The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, which is awarded to a short story of 3,000 words or less, is administered by the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. 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. The program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes led by published writers and experienced teachers. Each course carries academic credit awarded through UNC-Asheville.
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.
North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), was born in Asheville. His Look Homeward, Angel is considered one of the most important coming-of-age novels in the English language. Wolfe was considered at the time of his death to be the greatest talent North Carolina had given to American literature. His novels and collected short stories go beyond autobiography, trying to, in William Faulkner’s words, “put all the experience of the human heart on the head of a pin.” His intense poetic language and thoughtfully developed symbology, combined with his uncanny ability to enter the minds of his other characters and give them powerful voices, elevate the books from memoir to undeniable literary art.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.