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Announcing the Winners of the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize

ASHEVILLE—Rachel Taube (pictured on the right) had just defended her MFA thesis when she got the news that her short story “The Gentle Clack of a Fox’s Teeth” won the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize.

Taube, who earned her MFA at UNC Wilmington, will receive $1,000 and possible publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.

Final judge Randall Kenan, in selecting Taube’s story, said, “’The Gentle Clack of a Fox’s Teeth’ feels like a fresh take on the South and confronts a very serious controversial subject with humor and wit and pathos. This writer is wise.”

Taube’s writing has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hobart, Cleaver Magazine, and The Millions. She has been a C.D. Wright / Nan Snow Emerging Writer, a Tent Creative Writing Fellow, and an Electric Literature–Catapult Scholarship recipient. She is the managing editor of Ecotone at UNC-Wilmington.

Kenan also selected two entries for Honorable Mention: “Patriotism” by Jason Gray, and “The Runaway” by Sarah David.

Gray is the Senior Fellow for Research and Policy at the North Carolina Rural Center, and a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. “Patriotism” is an excerpt from his novel-in-progress.

David is an architectural historian and supervisor with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. A native of Germanton, she now lives in Raleigh.

Randall Kenan is the author of a novel, A Visitation of Spirits; two works of nonfiction, Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century and The Fire This Time; and a collection of stories, Let the Dead Bury Their Dead. He edited and wrote the introduction for The Cross of Redemption: The Uncollected Writings of James Baldwin. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Mrs. Giles Whiting Award, the North Carolina Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Rome Prize. Kenan is a 2018 inductee into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. He is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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