Iowa Short Fiction Award and John Simmons Short Fiction Award

Thomas Dodson, Winner of the 2023 Iowa Short Fiction Award
Thomas A. Dodson won the 2023 Iowa Short Fiction
Award for No Use Pretending.

The 2023 winner has been announced!

Entries for the 2024 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. Last year's judge was Gish Jen.

Gish Jen | photo by Basso Cannarsa
Gish Jen, Final Judge 2023 | Photo by Basso Cannarsa

Gish Jen has published short work in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and dozens of other periodicals, anthologies and textbooks. Her work has been chosen for The Best American Short Stories five times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike.  Nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, her work was featured in a PBS American Masters’ special on the American novel and is widely taught.

Jen is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and a Mildred and Harold Strauss Living; she has also delivered the William E. Massey, Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University. She is currently a Visiting Professor at Harvard.

THANK YOU, MR NIXON is her ninth book.

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


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.


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.


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

Judge: Anthony Marra
2020 Short Fiction AwardsA. J. Bermudez won the Iowa Short Fiction Award
for Stories No One Hopes Are About Them. | [Publisher's Weekly review]

Janice Obuchowski won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award
for The Woods.


Judge: Brandon Taylor
2020 Short Fiction AwardsBlake Sanz won the Iowa Short Fiction Award
for The Boundaries of Their Dwelling. |[New York Times review]

Cara Blue Adams won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award
for You Never Get It Back. | [New York Times review]


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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

Kathleen Founds, Mystical Creatures Attack!

Judge: Julie Orringer
Tessa Mellas, Lungs Full of Noise

Kate Milliken, If I'd Known You Were Coming

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

Chad Simpson, Tell Everyone I Said Hi

Judge: Yiyun Li
Will Boast, Power Ballads

Josh Rolnick, Pulp and Paper

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

Barbara Hamby, Lester Higata's 20th Century

Kathryn Ma, All That Work and Still No Boys

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

Glen Pourciau, Invite

Molly McNett, One Dog Happy

Don Waters, Desert Gothic

Lee Montgomery, Whose World Is This?

Jim Tomlinson, Things Kept, Things Left Behind

Kevin Moffett, Permanent Visitors

Doug Trevor, The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space

Anthony Varallo, This Day in History

Janet Desaulniers, What You've Been Missing

Merrill Feitell, Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes

Ryan Harty, Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona

Beth Helms, American Wives

Jennifer S. Davis, Her Kind of Want

Laura Valeri, The Kind of Things Saints Do

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

Donald Anderson, Fire Road

Judge: Elizabeth McCracken
John McNally, Troublemakers

Elizabeth Oness, Articles of Faith

Judge: Marilynne Robinson
Nancy Reisman, House Fires

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

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

Kathryn Chetkovich, Friendly Fire

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

Lisa Lenzo, Within the Lighted City

Judge: Oscar Hijuelos
David Borofka, Hints of His Mortality

Don Zancanella, Western Electric

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

Charles Wyatt, Listening to Mozart

Judge: Joy Williams
Rod Val Moore, Igloo Among Palms

Susan Onthank Mates, The Good Doctor

Judge: Francine Prose
Renee Manfredi, Where Love Leaves Us

Lex Williford, Macauley's Thumb

Ann Harleman, Happiness

Judge: James Salter
Elizabeth Searle, My Body to You

Enid Shomer, Imaginary Men

Judge: Marilynne Robinson
Sondra Spatt Olsen, Traps

Elizabeth Harris, The Ant Generator

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

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

Miles Wilson, Line of Fall

Judge: Robert Stone
Sharon Dilworth, The Long White

Michael Pritchett, The Venus Tree

Judge: Alison Lurie
Abby Frucht, Fruit of the Month

Lucia Nevai, Star Game

Judge: Tobias Wolff
Dan O'Brien, Eminent Domain

Russell Working, Resurrectionists

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

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

Judge: Alice Adams
Ivy Goodman, Heart Failure

Judge: Raymond Carver
Dianne Benedict, Shiny Objects

Judge: Doris Grumbach
Annabel Thomas, The Phototropic Woman

Judge: Francine du Plessix Gray
James Fetler, Impossible Appetites

Judge: John Gardner
Mary Hedin, Fly Away Home

Judge: Stanley Elkin
Lon Otto, A Nest of Hooks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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