Iowa Short Fiction Award and John Simmons Short Fiction Award

Father Guards the Sheep. by Sari Rosenblatt and Ancestry, by Eileen O'Leary
Sari Rosenblatt won the 2020 Iowa Short Fiction
Award for her collection, Father Guards the Sheep.
Eileen O'Leary won the 2020 John Simmons Short
Fiction Award for her collection, Ancestry.

Entries for the competition should be postmarked between August 1 and September 30; packages must be postmarked by September 30.

The Iowa Short Fiction Award has been presented annually since 1969. In 1988 the University of Iowa Press instituted the John Simmons Short Fiction Award—named after the first director of the Press—to complement the ongoing award series. Both national competitions are juried through the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. This year's judge is Brandon Taylor.

Brandon Taylor
Brandon Taylor, Final Judge 2021
[Photo credit: Bill Adams]

Brandon Taylor is the senior editor of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and a staff writer at Literary Hub. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of the recent novel, Real Life.

Books by recent award winners can be purchased from the University of Iowa Press.

Eligibility

Any writer who has not previously published a volume of prose fiction is eligible to enter the competition. Previously entered manuscripts that have been revised may be resubmitted. Writers are still eligible if they have published a volume of poetry or any work in a language other than English or if they have self-published a work in a small print run. Writers are still eligible if they are living abroad or are non-US citizens writing in English. Current University of Iowa students are not eligible.

Manuscript

The manuscript must be a collection of short stories in English of at least 150 word-processed, double-spaced pages. We do not accept e-mail submissions. The manuscript may include a cover page, contents page, etc., but these are not required. The author's name can be on every page but this is not required. Stories previously published in periodicals are eligible for inclusion. There is no reading fee; please do not send cash, checks, or money orders. Reasonable care is taken, but we are not responsible for manuscripts lost in the mail or for the return of those not accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. We assume the author retains a copy of the manuscript.

Publication

Award-winning manuscripts will be published by the University of Iowa Press under the Press' standard contract.

Submit a manuscript for the Iowa Short Fiction Award and John Simmons Short Fiction Award

Recent Winners

2020
Judge: Tom Drury
2020 Short Fiction AwardsSari Rosenblatt won the Iowa Short Fiction Award
for Father Guards the Sheep.

Eileen O'Leary won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award
for Ancestry.

 

2019
Judge: Carmen Maria Machado
2019 Short FictionEmily Wortman-Wunder won the Iowa Short Fiction Award
for Not a Thing to Comfort You.

Ashley Wurzbacher won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award
for Happy Like This.

 

2018
Judge: Rebecca Lee
2018 Short FictionRuvanee Pietersz Vilhauer won the Iowa Short Fiction Award
for The Water Diviner and Other Stories.

Christian Felt won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award
for The Lightning Jar.

 

2017
Judge: Andre Dubus III
2017 Short FictionMatthew Lansburgh won the Iowa Short Fiction Award
for Outside is the Ocean.

Marian Crotty won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award
for What Counts as Love.

 

2016
Judge: Bennett Sims
2016 Short FictionRobert Oldshue won the Iowa Short Fiction Award
for November Storm.

Allegra Hyde won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award
for Of This New World.

 

2015
Judge: Karen Russell
2015 Short FictionEdward Hamlin won the Iowa Short Fiction Award
for Night in Erg Chebbi and Other Stories.

Charles Haverty won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award
for Excommunicados.

 

Previous Winners

2014
Judge: Wells Tower
Heather A. Slomski, The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons

Kathleen Founds, Mystical Creatures Attack!

2013
Judge: Julie Orringer
Tessa Mellas, Lungs Full of Noise

Kate Milliken, If I'd Known You Were Coming

2012
Judge: Jim Shepard
Marie-Helene Bertino, Safe as Houses

Chad Simpson, Tell Everyone I Said Hi

2011
Judge: Yiyun Li
Will Boast, Power Ballads

Josh Rolnick, Pulp and Paper

2010
Judge:
Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell, The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti

Barbara Hamby, Lester Higata's 20th Century

2009
Judge:
Kathryn Ma, All That Work and Still No Boys

Jennine Capó Crucet, How to Leave Hialeah: Stories from the Heart of Miami

2008
Judge:
Glen Pourciau, Invite

Molly McNett, One Dog Happy

2007
Judge:
Don Waters, Desert Gothic

Lee Montgomery, Whose World Is This?

2006
Judge:
Jim Tomlinson, Things Kept, Things Left Behind

Kevin Moffett, Permanent Visitors

2005
Judge:
Doug Trevor, The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space

Anthony Varallo, This Day in History

2004
Judge:
Janet Desaulniers, What You've Been Missing

Merrill Feitell, Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes

2003
Judge:
Ryan Harty, Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona

Beth Helms, American Wives

2002
Judge:
Jennifer S. Davis, Her Kind of Want

Laura Valeri, The Kind of Things Saints Do

2001
Judge:
Sohrab Homi Fracis, Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America

Donald Anderson, Fire Road

2000
Judge: Elizabeth McCracken
John McNally, Troublemakers

Elizabeth Oness, Articles of Faith

1999
Judge: Marilynne Robinson
Nancy Reisman, House Fires

Thisbe Nissen, Out of the Girls' Room and into the Night

1998
Judge: Stuart Dybek
Mark Brazaitis, The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala

Kathryn Chetkovich, Friendly Fire

1997
Judge: Ann Beattie
Jim Henry, Thank You for Being Concerned and Sensitive

Lisa Lenzo, Within the Lighted City

1996
Judge: Oscar Hijuelos
David Borofka, Hints of His Mortality

Don Zancanella, Western Electric

1995
Judge: Ethan Canin
Tereze Glück, May You Live in Interesting Times

Charles Wyatt, Listening to Mozart

1994
Judge: Joy Williams
Rod Val Moore, Igloo among Palms

Susan Onthank Mates, The Good Doctor

1993
Judge: Francine Prose
Renee Manfredi, Where Love Leaves Us

Lex Williford, Macauley's Thumb

Ann Harleman, Happiness

1992
Judge: James Salter
Elizabeth Searle, My Body to You

Enid Shomer, Imaginary Men

1991
Judge: Marilynne Robinson
Sondra Spatt Olsen, Traps

Elizabeth Harris, The Ant Generator

1990
Judge: Jayne Anne Phillips
Marly Swick, A Hole in the Language

1989
Judge: Gail Godwin
Starkey Flythe, Jr., Lent: The Slow Fast

Miles Wilson, Line of Fall

1988
Judge: Robert Stone
Sharon Dilworth, The Long White

Michael Pritchett, The Venus Tree

1987
Judge: Alison Lurie
Abby Frucht, Fruit of the Month

Lucia Nevai, Star Game

1986
Judge: Tobias Wolff
Dan O'Brien, Eminent Domain

Russell Working, Resurrectionists

1985
Judge: Tim O'Brien
Robert Boswell, Dancing in the Movies

1984
Judge: Frederick Busch
Susan M. Dodd, Old Wives' Tales

1983
Judge: Alice Adams
Ivy Goodman, Heart Failure

1982
Judge: Raymond Carver
Dianne Benedict, Shiny Objects

1981
Judge: Doris Grumbach
Annabel Thomas, The Phototropic Woman

1980
Judge: Francine du Plessix Gray
James Fetler, Impossible Appetites

1979
Judge: John Gardner
Mary Hedin, Fly Away Home

1978
Judge: Stanley Elkin
Lon Otto, A Nest of Hooks

1977
Judge: Leonard Michaels
Pat Carr, The Women in the Mirror

1976
Judge: Donald Barthelme
C. E. Poverman, The Black Velvet Girl

1975
Judge: George P. Garrett
Barry Targan, Harry Belten and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

1974
Judge: William H. Gass
Natalie L. M. Petesch, After the First Death There Is No Other

1973
Judge: John Hawkes
H. E. Francis, The Itinerary of Beggars

1972
Judge: Joyce Carol Oates
Jack Cady, The Burning and Other Stories

1971
Judge: George P. Elliott
Philip F. O'Connor, Old Morals, Small Continents, Darker Times

1970
Judges: Vance Nye Bourjaily and Kurt Vonnegut
Cyrus Colter, The Beach Umbrella