ASHEVILLE—Thomas Wolfe, according to author Sallie Bingham, included her great-grandfather in the Ashevillians he caricatured in Look Homeward, Angel.
Perhaps it’s poetic justice, then, that Bingham has won the 2023 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize for her entry “What I Learned from Fat Annie.”
Bingham will receive $1,000 and possible publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.
Final judge Judy Goldman said of Bingham’s entry, “Such a clear, confident voice in this story! The author goes from start to finish with that rough-hewn, straightforward, unadorned, intimate style. I was hooked the minute I read about that darned chandelier all the way through to the very last word. And now, days after reading the story for the first time, then the second time, I’m still thinking about it, wondering how those very real characters are doing.”
Bingham’s long career as a writer began in 1960 with the publication of her novel, After Such Knowledge. This was followed by 15 collections of short stories, novels, memoirs, plays, as well as the recent biography The Silver Swan: In Search of Doris Duke. She is an active and involved feminist who founded the Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University, and the Women’s Project and Productions in New York City. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her latest book is a memoir, Little Brother, published by Sarabande Books last May.
Goldman also selected “Aimee” by NCWN member Diane McPhail for honorable mention. McPhail is the author of two novels, The Abolitionist’s Daughter and The Seamstress of New Orleans, a nominee for the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2023 Fiction Award. She received the Award for Literary Excellence in Flash Fiction from Santa Barbara Literary Journal. She was featured on LiveTalks LA in conversation with Jane Smiley, and has presented at the Historical Novel Society National Conference, the Western Carolina University Literary Festival, the Mississippi Book Festival, the Women’s National Book Association, and elsewhere. She lives in Highlands.
“The author is a writer of great skill and precision.” Goldman said of McPhail’s entry. “So many soul-stirring passages here. Passages that break your heart and then pat you on the arm to say everything’s going to be all right. The love contained in these pages is extraordinary.”
Judy Goldman is the author of seven books: three memoirs, two novels, and two collections of poetry.
Her new memoir, Child, was named a Katie Couric Media Must-Read Book for 2022. Her recent memoir, Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap, is an Amazon Best Pick and was named a best book of 2019 by Real Simple magazine.
Among her awards are the Hobson Award for Distinguished Achievement in Arts and Letters; Fortner Writer and Community Award for “outstanding generosity to other writers and the larger community;” Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award; Roanoke-Chowan Poetry Award; and others.
Her work has appeared in USA Today, Washington Post, Real Simple, LitHub, Southern Review, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Ohio Review, Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere.
The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, which is awarded to a work of short fiction 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.