Brad Field of Wilmington is the winner of the 2015 Doris Betts Fiction Prize competition for his story “Achmed’s Lesson.” Field will receive a prize of $250 from the North Carolina Writers Network, and his story will be published in the North Carolina Literary Review’s 25th issue in 2016.
A playwright, drama anthology editor, and retired university English professor, having taught at Wayne State University in Detroit for most of his career, Brad Field lives most of the year in Wilmington, NC, then spends summers on Lake Michigan.
NCLR Fiction Editor Liza Wieland selected Field’s story from 10 finalists, saying, “I admire "Achmed's Lesson" for its cultural critique certainly, but also for the deceptive simplicity of the writing. To me, it read like the best sort of translation. The meaning is crystal clear, but below the surface of the narration, the original simmers in subtle invitation. I think it's quite remarkable to capture this quality in a story written in English; I felt both comfortably at home and transported to a world I didn't—but wanted to—know.”
Wieland also selected “Eminent Domain” by Kathryn Etters Lovatt for second place and publication, applying Faulkner’s famous lines, “‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ ‘Eminent Domain’ illustrates the truth of this statement through deft description and the painful but compelling resilience of the first person narrator, Amy. The ending is the very definition of bittersweet, and will stay in my mind for a long time.” Lovatt, who has a vacation home in Southport, NC, but lives most of the year in Camden, SC, is also a former winner and a finalist in previous Betts competitions.
A record 121 stories were submitted to this year’s competition. The other finalists are Heather Adams of Raleigh for “White Iris,” Debra Madaris Efird of Harrisburg for “Palette of Love,” Lana Hendershott of Hendersonville for “Kind of Crazy,” Debra Lee of Rocky Mount for “Dale Earnhardt and the Rapture,” Ian Oeschger of Wilmington for “Lowcountry Boil,” Denise Sherman of Raleigh for “The Color Wheel,” Robert Wallace of Durham for “The Disobedience of Love,” and Jude Whelchel of Asheville for “Body Talk Soft, Body Talk Loud.”
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 at East Carolina University, the North Carolina Literary Review has won numerous awards and citations, most recently the 2014 Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. Fiction Editor Liza Wieland is the author of three collections of short stories and four novels, including Land of Enchantment, just out this year.
A two-year subscription to NCLR will include the 2015 issue, featuring the winner from the 2014 Betts competition, as well as the 2016 issue, featuring Field’s winning story from this year’s competition. Find subscription information at http://www.nclr.ecu.edu/subscriptions.
Below, left to right, 2nd place recipient Kathryn Etters Lovatt, winner Brad Field,
and NCLR Fiction Editor Liza Wieland, at a reading at Pomegranate Books in
Wilmington, NC, 29 May 2015