Professor Cara Blue Adams has won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award in the Iowa Short Fiction Award Series for her debut collection of short stories, You Never Get It Back.
Sponsored by the University of Iowa Press, the award is highly competitive and, according to the New York Times Book Review, "among the most prestigious literary prizes America offers." Likewise, Joyce Carol Oates has noted that "the Iowa series is one of our most valuable American literary traditions."
The judge of this year's awards, Brandon Taylor, praised Adams' first book of short stories, calling it "a modern classic of a collection." Taylor, who is the author of the novel Real Life, which was a New York Times Editors' Choice and shortlisted for the Booker Prize, notes:
The structural originality and expansive sweep of stories in You Never Get It Bock reveal a writer of impressive insight and technical virtuosity. The depth and urgency of these stories brought to mind Alice Munro's great collection Runaway. These stories crackle with restless vitality as women come up against the constraints of their circumstances and what it means to be in the world. Cara Blue Adams has written a modern classic of a collection, as effortless in its idiom as it is fearless in its consideration of contemporary life. These stories left me breathless.
You Never Get It Back will be published by the University of Iowa Press in the fall of 2021. Of the book, the press writes:
The gorgeously precise and observant stories in You Never Get It Back bring the ambiguous and ambivalent drama of real life in photorealistic prose. These linked stories offer elegantly constructed glimpses of the life of a young woman from rural New England, Kate, moving between her childhood in the countryside of Vermont, and her twenties and thirties in the northeast, southwest, and South in pursuit of a vocation, first as a research scientist and later as a writer. Place is a palpable presence: Boston in winter, Maine in summer, Virginia's lush hillsides, the open New Mexico sky. Along the way, we meet Kate's difficult bohemian mother and younger sister, her privileged college roommate, and the various men Kate dates as she struggles to define what she wants from the world on her own terms. Wryly funny and shot through with surprising flashes of anger, these smart, searching stories grapple with social class, gender, ambition, violence, and the distance between longing and having. Kate's contradictions and desires make us ache with recognition. What we lose, these powerful, subtle stories show, is as much a part of us as what we keep.
Adams is no stranger to praise, publications, or awards. A 2018 NYC Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow, her stories appear in Granta, the Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction, Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, Epoch, and Narrative, among other magazines. Her fiction has been awarded the Kenyon Review Short Fiction Prize, judged by Alice Hoffman, and the Missouri Review William Peden Prize, judged by Jessica Francis Kane, along with the Meringoff Prize in Fiction and support from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Sewanee Writers' Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Lighthouse Works, and the New York State Council on the Arts. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Seton Hall.