Book Prize for Fiction

Congratulations to our winner of the 2021 Book Prize in Fiction!



Caleb Tankersley, Sin Eaters

Headshot of author and prize winner Caleb TankersleySin Eaters uses an off-kilter approach to explore religion, faith, and the oddities of what it means to be human in a vast world beyond our grasp. These rich, highly imagined stories are deeply felt and emotionally resonant with a humor that sneaks up on you.Julie Iromuanya


Magical, heartfelt, and surprisingly funny, Sin Eaters paints a tumultuous picture of religion and repression while hinting at the love and connection that come with healing. The powerful stories in Caleb Tankersley’s debut collection illuminate the shadowy edges of the American Midwest, featuring aspects of religion, sex and desire, monsters and magic, and humor.

Tankersley’s characters—including swamp creatures looking for love, pothead pastors, ghosts obsessed with TV, and a Jesus made of rust—arrive at the crossroads of pleasure and hunger in a world that is equal parts playful, hopeful, and dark. In “Never Been More in Love” a man must come to terms with his wife’s degenerative illness. “Uncle Bob” explores suicide attempts as a family heirloom. And the titular story follows a woman who must accept her monstrous role to find redemption for herself and her small town.

Sin Eaters is a fight for authenticity in a world that is mysterious, muggy, and punctured by violence. This stunning collection full of complex themes will both challenge and delight.






About Julie Iromuanya


Head shot of Judge and author Julie IromuanyaJulie Iromuanya is the author of MR. AND MRS. DOCTOR (Coffee House Press, 2015), a finalist for the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award, the 2016 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature, the 2015 National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize for Debut Fiction, along with a San Francisco Chronicle “Best of 2015,” a Star Tribune Critics Choice, and a “Best Minnesota Books 2015.”

Born and raised in the American Midwest, she is the daughter of Igbo Nigerian immigrants. Her creative writing has also appeared in The Kenyon ReviewPassages North, the Cream City Review, and the Tampa Review, among other journals. Most recently, her scholarly-critical work appears or is forthcoming in MeridiansCallaloo, and Afropolitan Literature as World Literature

Iromuanya earned her B.A. at the University of Central Florida and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was a Richard H. Larson Fellow, a Presidential Fellow, and an award-winning teacher.

She is a 2020 George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellow. She was the inaugural Herbert W. Martin Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Dayton. She has also been a Kimbilio Fellow, a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference, the Jane Tinkham Broughton Fellow in Fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellow in France, a Brown Foundation Fellow at the Dora Maar House in France, a Jan Michalski Fellow at the “Treehouses” in Switzerland, and the Eternal Vada Fellow at the Sangam House residency in India. Her work has also been supported by residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the MacDowell Colony, the Ragdale Foundation, Villa Lena Foundation, and Villa Ruffieux at Chateau Mercier.

Iromuanya is an assistant professor of English (creative writing and Africana literature) and director of undergraduate studies for the Program in Creative Writing at the University of Chicago. She is also affiliate faculty of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. In the past, she has served on the faculty at the University of Dayton, the University of Tampa, Northeastern Illinois University (Chicago), the University of Arizona’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, and she taught for seven summers at the Johns Hopkins University-Center for Talented Youth, both in the U.S. and in Hong Kong.