According to the New York Times Book Review, the Iowa Short Fiction Award is among the most prestigious literary prizes America offers, and the Chicago Tribune has called the honor “a respected prize that annually introduces readers to a writer whose work is little known outside the circle of literary magazine and university publications.” In 1991, to both celebrate the stories discovered by the Iowa Short Fiction Award and its companion, the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, and to further acquaint readers with the prize-winning authors, Frank Conroy compiled The Iowa Award: The Best Stories from Twenty Years. He follows that now with The Iowa Award: The Best Stories, 1991–2000, a collection of twenty-one winning selections.
Whether hurtling toward Earth in a disabled airplane, sharing silence with a prostitute, fantasizing about the Manson family, or hiding disgust for a dying friend, the characters in this new collection engage and captivate readers. The authors—from 1991 winners Elizabeth Harris and Sondra Spatt Olsen to newcomers John McNally and Elizabeth Oness—explore the nuances of love, lust, youth, old age, illness, nostalgia, obsession, idiosyncrasy, and surprise.
Their work—judged by such accomplished writers as Ethan Canin, Francine Prose, Ann Beattie, and Stuart Dybek—and the selections Conroy has chosen to share exemplify remarkable writing. Moreover, each writer achieves the expectations of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, established in 1969 to provide a forum for the publication of a uniquely American literary form.