Thomas Wolf of Chapel Hill is the winner of the 2011 Doris Betts Fiction Prize competition for his story “Boundaries.” Wolf 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 2012 issue.
Wolf is a previous Doris Betts Fiction Prize winner, and his 2007 winning story “Distance” appears in the 2008 issue of NCLR. He has an MFA in Fiction Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He and his wife, Patricia L. Bryan, co-authored Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland (Algonquin Books, 2005), a nonfiction narrative about the now century-old Iowa murder case that also inspired Susan Glaspell’s play “Trifles” and short story “A Jury of Her Peers.”
NCLR Fiction Editor Liza Wieland selected Wolf’s 2011 submission, saying, “The impressive power of the winning story, ‘Boundaries,’ comes from the quiet longing with which it is told. The tone is acutely reasonable, the perfect foil for the act of violence at the story’s center. The narrator’s tangential relationship to this act allows him to peer more and more closely into the lives of those involved and finally feel beautifully and horribly touched by it: ‘I wonder,’ he says, ‘how it feels to be loved like that.’ ‘Boundaries’ shows us quite brilliantly the truth of Faulkner’s notion of the past—that it is never dead, and not even past.”
Wieland named a second place in this year’s competition: Joseph Cavano’s “The Honey Wagon.” Of this story she says, “I admire ‘The Honey Wagon’ for the consistency and authenticity of its narrative voice and the way that voice guides the reader through a complicated progress of responses. We follow him from humor and happiness to uncertainly and finally to the complex world of adult knowledge and deception. It’s remarkable to see a voice grow up in this way, to change subtly but surely and gracefully in the course of twenty pages. I ache for this narrator.” Born in upstate New York, Cavano currently lives in Charlotte, NC. He was also a finalist in the 2010 Doris Betts Fiction Prize competition.
98 stories were submitted to this year’s competition, up from 82 in 2010. Of the 9 finalists, Wieland also noted for Honorable Mention “You Never Know Who’s Watching You” by Gwendolyn Bikis, “Falling Through Chairs” by Carol Cooley, “Jump” by Doris Iarovici, and “The Yellow Forsythia” by Sandra Lunsford Mason. Other finalists were “Yang Rising” by Kathryn Etters Lovatt, “The Cops” by Bernard Lumpkin, and “Life Choices” by Sarah Meyer.
The Doris Betts Fiction Prize is sponsored by the North Carolina Writers Network and managed by the editorial staff of the North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR). Published since 1992 by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, NCLR has won numerous awards and citations. Fiction Editor Liza Wieland is the author of three novels and four collections of short stories.
A two-year subscription to NCLR will include the 2011 issue, featuring the winning story from the 2010 Betts competition, as well as the 2012 issue, featuring stories from this year’s competition. Subscribe by June 1 to avoid postage charges.
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