DAVIDSON, NC—Susan Levi Wallach of South Carolina and Jude Whelchel of Asheville, NC, have been selected by final judge Marianne Gingher of UNC-Chapel Hill as the co-winners of the 2014 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize. They will split the $1,000 first-prize award.
Wallach’s story, “A Still Life,” mesmerized Gingher.
“I haven’t been able to get this story out of my head since I read it," Gingher said. "The language is vivid, lyrical at times, visceral....There isn’t a single false moment or overwrought sentence in this spare, heartbreaking story.”
Wallach is a freelance editor with an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her story, “Another Day for Monkeys,” won the 2013 Porter Fleming Literary Competition in fiction.
Gingher felt equally strong about Jude Whelchel’s “Mother in a Boneyard World."
“What I admired most,” she said, “was the musicality of the ‘voice’ in the story....The marvelous stoicism of Dew’s mama touched and heartened me. She seems to be a force in the world as unstoppable as Motherhood itself.”
Whelchel’s fiction has appeared in The Sequoya Review and The Potomac Review. A graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she is an Episcopal priest and mother.
Gary V. Powell of Lake Norman, NC, received an honorable mention for “Rusty Luvs Suzie." Powell, a retired lawyer, has had several stories selected as finalists in national contests, including Glimmer Train, The Press 53 Prize, and The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize (2008).
“I liked the energy in this story," said Gingher. "The author’s obvious enjoyment of characterizing an entire town through the eyes of a sheriff on the brink of retirement....Strong and endearing characters made this story one of my favorites.”
Gingher, a well-known novelist, short-story writer, and Professor of English and Creative Writing at UNC-Chapel Hill, selected the three winners from a group of eleven finalists sent to her by preliminary judge David Radavich of Charlotte. These included “City Streets” by Enid Harlow, “Summer Enrichment” by Betty Joyce Nash, “The Relic” by Caryn Sutorus, “Altar Call at Possum Trot” by Jessica Walker, “Burial” by George Harrar, “The Second First Time” by Paula Brancato, “Broken Things” by Jane Shlensky, and “The End of Dr. Moses” by Emmet Hirsch. Gingher especially commended “The Burial” and “The End of Dr. Moses.”
These eleven finalists were selected from over 200 entries, the largest number since the competition was inaugurated by the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Contest coordinator Anthony Abbott attributed the increase to the fact that stories can now be submitted online. The final judge for the 2015 competition will be novelist Lee Smith.