Chad Simpson, who graduated from Monmouth College in 1998 with a degree in English, is the winner of the 2012 John Simmons Short Fiction Award, one of two prestigious 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Awards presented by the University of Iowa Press.
The short fiction awards are given to a first collection of fiction in English and are juried through the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The honors are national in scope and have been given since 1969. The John Simmons Short Fiction Award (named for the first director of the University of Iowa Press) was created in 1988 to complement the existing Iowa Short Fiction Award.
Simpson’s “Tell Everyone I Said Hi” is a collection of 18 stories that “roam the small-town playgrounds, blue-collar neighborhoods and rural highways of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky to find people who’ve lost someone or something they love and have not yet found ways to move forward. … Poignant, fresh and convincing, these are stories of women who smell of hairspray and beer and landscapers who worry about their livers, of flooded basements and loud trucks, of bad exes and horrible jobs, of people who remain loyal to sports teams that always lose.”
“I was a finalist in two national book contests in 2011, and when the call came from the University of Iowa Press, I was shocked and surprised, but not as much as I might have been had I not come close in contests before,” said Simpson. “Now that the news about the award is spreading, however, I've begun to appreciate it more. I’m very honored that my book is going to come out from this press, that it’s won this prestigious award. It’s humbling. I should also say that, while contests like these are typically won by people who have written pretty good books, it takes more than just writing a good book to win. A certain amount of luck is certainly involved. I feel very lucky..”
The most significant part of the honor, Simpson explained, is that his collection will be published and widely distributed by the University of Iowa Press in the fall. Having short fiction published in book form, particularly by a prestigious press, is one of the most difficult challenges for a young author, he said.
Simpson’s work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly, Esquire, American Short Fiction, The Sun and many other print and online publications. He is the recipient of a fellowship in prose from the Illinois Arts Council and scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers’ conferences. He teaches at Knox College, where he received the Philip Green Wright/Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching in 2010.