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For a recording of our main Oct. 2nd Festival Activities including a Master class by Barbara Kingsolver  CLICK HERE:

The Festival seeks to honor the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and those of prominent American literary artists and to support, encourage, and assist aspiring and emerging writers and students interested in the literary arts.

The centerpiece of the Literary Festival is the presentation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature to a prominent American writer, who is present to give a reading and a master class. Over the years, many of the most distinguished American literary figures of the last half century have been honored. The 2020 recipient was Barbara Kingsolver. The 2020 Festival was held virtually, with events on September 24, October 2, and October 3.

On the evening of October 2 at 8 p.m., the Festival co-sponsored with Politics & Prose Bookstore a reading by Barbara Kingsolver from her new book, How to Fly (in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons). The activities on October 3 included morning and afternoon writing workshops designed for both emerging and established fiction and non-fiction writers; a Master Class with Barbara Kingsolver; a talk on “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Rockville” by historian Eileen McGuckian; and an Awards Ceremony, which featured a reading by Barbara Kingsolver.

The 2020 Festival also sponsored two short story contests: a Student Contest open to Montgomery County high school students and an Adult Contest open to residents of Maryland, DC, and Virginia. The winners and two runners-up in each contest were announced and awarded cash prizes at a virtual ceremony on the evening of September 24, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 124th birthday. That evening’s activities also featured a conversation on “Gatsby Set Loose in the Public Domain: What’s Next?” with Kirk Curnutt, Executive Director of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society,  James L. W. West III., General Editor Emeritus of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Jackson R. Bryer, President of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.




2020 Honoree

Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955, and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985.




2020 Keynote Speaker & Special Guest

Clint Smith is a writer, teacher, and Emerson Fellow at New America. He is the author of the poetry collection, Counting Descent, and the forthcoming nonfiction book How the Word Is Passed. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. He received his B.A. from Davidson College and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.


2020 Short Story Competition 

Luke Woodard.png

Adult winners


First Prize:

Rates and Vessels

Raisa Tolchinsky

Video: 51:30 -106


Golden Boy

Luke Woodard

Video 38:30-51

An Empty Nest

Briana Maley

Video 28 -38:30

Student winners


First Prize:

When It Rains

Finn Periz

Video: 15-24


The Ocean in My Room

Amanda Wu

Video: 2:39 -14

Love Languages

Caroline Dinh

Amanda Wu Ocean in my room.png
thank you.png

Special thanks to Davina Thrower Smith, Mary Hopkins, Nate Brown and Eric Carzon for their leadership on the contest as well as volunteers from The Bethesda Writer's Center  for their story reviews and to the Center for its  logistical help making reviews go smoothly. 

 Our Events & Links to Images

See video of Saturday’s event, captured by our video host the Montgomery County Public Libraries at their Facebook page

Introducing the 2020 F Scott Fitzgerald Scholars.

Workshops October 3 

Morning Workshops 9:00-10:30 a.m.

Tara Campbell: "It's All About Us: Diversity in Speculative Fiction" (Fiction)

Margaret Talbot: "Making Memoir Matter" (Non-Fiction)

Mary Kay Zuravleff: "How Far Can One Word Take You?" (Fiction)

Afternoon Workshops 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

Caroline Bock: "Exploring Home" (Fiction)






Tope Folarin: "Creating a Template for Success: On the Importance of Structuring Narratives" (Fiction)

E. Ethelbert Miller: "Writing the Memoir During a Period of Climate Change and Personal Transformation" (Non-Fiction)

Barbara Kingsolver's Master Class on writing

 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m 

Presentation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature

Roberta S. Mandrekas

Acceptance and Reading by Barbara Kingsolver

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Clint Smith's Keynote Talk  

1:00 - 1:30 p.m. 

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