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Longtime NCWN Member Wins Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize

ASHEVILLE—NCWN member Lou Schlesinger (pictured on the right) has won the 2021 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize for his story “Post-Traumatic MoonPie.”

Schlesinger, who lives in Shelby, will receive $1,000 and possible publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.

Final judge Therese Anne Fowler said of Schlesinger’s entry, “I moved through this atmospheric tale with keen interest, breath held, heart hopeful. The story is evocative, suspenseful, effective, and affecting––an impressive accomplishment of writing craft and storytelling. My congratulations to the author.”

Schlesinger is a Mineral Process Engineer turned fiction writer, with memberships in both the North Carolina Writers’ Network and West Virginia Writers (WVW). He was a finalist for NCWN’s 2020 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition and won First Honorable Mention in WVW’s 2020 competition for prose by an emerging writer.

Fowler also selected two entries for Honorable Mention: “After Hours” by Andrew Scrimgeour of Cary, another NCWN member, and “The Scent of Water” by Lisa Leyenda of Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Therese Anne Fowler is the author of several New York Times bestselling novels. Her articles and essays have appeared in The Week, Harper’s Bazaar, the Telegraph, and more, and her books are sold in translation worldwide. A Good Neighborhood, her most recent work, debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and was the Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for March 2020. Her 2018 novel A Well-Behaved Woman was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Her 2013 novel Z has been adapted as an original television series for Amazon Studios, starring Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald. Therese earned a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing, both from NC State University. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she lives in Raleigh with her husband, author John Kessel.

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