Heather Bell Adams (pictured on the right) is the winner of the 2021 Doris Betts Fiction Prize for her story, “The Virgin of Guadalupe’s Moon.” Adams will receive a prize of $250 from the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and her story will be published in the North Carolina Literary Review’s 2022 issue.
Heather Bell Adams is the author of the novels Maranatha Road (West Virginia University Press, 2017) and The Good Luck Stone (Haywire Books. 2020). Her writing has won the Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Award, the Carrie McCray Literary Award, and the James Still Fiction Prize and has appeared in, among other literary magazines, Still, The Thomas Wolfe Review, Atticus Review, Broad River Review, and Pembroke Magazine. A lifelong North Carolinian, she works as a lawyer in Raleigh and will serve as the 2022 Piedmont Laureate.
There were 126 stories submitted to the 2021 contest, and this year’s final judge was Monique Truong, author of the novels The Book of Salt, The Sweetest Fruits, and, set in North Carolina, Bitter in the Mouth. Truong explained her selection for the 2021 prize: “In prose as elegant and poised as the young Jackie Bouvier herself, ‘The Virgin of Guadalupe’s Moon’ imagines a moonlit night during her truncated honeymoon with Jack Kennedy in Acapulco, Mexico. We the reader know the inevitable, but this night is before the inevitable. The writer here has astutely situated them—and us—within the fertile territory of the possible. Like Acapulco itself, everything between Jackie and Jack is newly constructed, shining with a fresh gloss of the modern, and yet in the surrounding landscape there’s something alive and insatiable as their own desires, but not necessarily for each other. The writing here shimmers and glows, Jackie and Jack do too.”
Truong also gave honorable mention to “Invasive Pests” by Settle Monroe, praising “its intriguing, poignant juxtaposition of two narratives of destruction. From the insect world, there’s a fast-moving, systematic one, and from the all-too human realm one that’s incremental and grinding.” Monroe’s story will be published in 2022 as well. The author is a graduate student in the M.A. program in English at North Carolina State University.
The other finalists were “Playing Chess with Bulls” by Weaverville resident Sarah P. Blanchard, “Under My Skin” by UNC Chapel Hill Professor of Latin American Literature Oswaldo Estrada, and “Swept Away” by Greensboro resident Caroline McCoy.
The annual Doris Betts Fiction Prize honors the late novelist and short story writer Doris Betts, and is sponsored by the nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network, the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.
Published since 1992 by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, the North Carolina Literary Review has won numerous awards and citations. Go to http://www.nclr.ecu.edu/subscriptions for subscription information.
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