Thomas Wolf (that's Wolf with no e) of Chapel Hill is the winner of the Doris Betts Fiction Prize for his story "Distance." North Carolina Literary Review editor Margaret Bauer remembers that when she saw the story come in, she thought, "With a name like that and living in North Carolina, I guess you have to be a writer." Wolf will receive a prize of $200 from the North Carolina Writers Network. Second place, $100, is awarded to Gregg Cusick for "Five is Red."
Thomas Wolf has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, since 1986. He is a graduate of Knox College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he earned an MFA degree in Fiction Writing. Like most writers, he has worked in variety of jobs: factory worker, newspaper carrier, teacher, writing consultant. From 1976 to 1985, he was an instructor of English at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois and is now a writing consultant for the Association of American Medical Colleges. Tom Wolf and his wife are the co-authors of Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland (Algonquin Books 2005). The book was selected by the American Library Association for the 2006 Amelia Bloomer Project list of recommended titles for grades 9-12, and the book was also chosen as a finalist for the Benjamin Shambaugh Award, which is presented annually by the State Historical Society of Iowa
Final judge Linda Beatrice Brown, author of Rainbow Roun Mah Shoulder and Crossing Over Jordan, chose the winning stories from nine finalists that were selected by the North Carolina Literary Review from the original sixty-nine submissions. Brown says of "Distance," "I liked the voice, very restrained and lots of room for the reader to fill in the blanks. The silences are more important than the information and they are also 'creepy.' The whole story is chilling without being loud and obvious." "Five is Red," according to Brown, "is provocative and has very unusual subject matter. it gives a view into the extreme sensitivity that some people are born with, and how difficult it can be for them to adjust to life with the rest of us. . . . It was carefully written and reveals an inner landscape we rarely see."
Brown has recommended both stories for publication in NCLR. They will appear in the 2008 issue. In the meantime, look for the 2006 Betts Prize story, "Night Light" by Rhonda Strickland, in the 2007 issue of NCLR, due out this summer. For subscription information, go to www.ecu.edu/nclr.