To celebrate Women’s History Month, we pulled together a shortlist of recently honored women writers who graduated from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Looking for your next book? Here are nine authors to consider adding to your book list this spring. All are graduates of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.


portrait of Lan Samantha Chang

Lan Samantha Chang

It seems fitting to start this list with the workshop’s director whose new novel was released in February: The Family Chao.

Chang, who graduated from the workshop in 1993 and has been its director since 2006, is the author of two previous novels and a story collection.

She recently was named one of eight women writers “helping to make the world a better place” by Oprah Daily and is a 2021–22 Berlin Prize fellow.



portrait of Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros

This 1978 graduate is an activist, poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, and artist. Her classic coming-of-age novel, The House on Mango Street, has sold more than 6 million copies, was translated into more than 20 languages, and is required reading in elementary, high school, and university curricula across the U.S.

In 2019, she received the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.



portrait of Sandra Lim

Sandra Lim

This 2004 poetry graduate is a two-time Pushcart Prize winner, the recipient of a 2020 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow.

She has published several poetry collections including her latest, The Curious Thing. Oprah Daily singled out The Wilderness as one of the 29 best poetry books.



portrait of Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado

This 2012 graduate, named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2019, is the author of the bestselling memoir, In the Dream House, which received the Lambda Literary Award for Nonfiction.

Her debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, published in 2017, won the National Book Critics Circle’s award for best first book, the Bard Fiction Prize, and the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.



portrait of Elizabeth McCracken

Elizabeth McCracken

The latest short story collection by this 1990 graduate, The Souvenir Museum, was longlisted for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction.

It was the third time the writer was honored by the National Book Foundation: Thunderstruck & Other Stories was longlisted in 2014, and The Giant’s House was a finalist in 1996. Her other books include Here’s Your Hat What’s Your HurryNiagara Falls All Over AgainAn Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, and Bowlaway.




portrait of Maggie Shipstead

Maggie Shipstead

This 2008 alumna and New York Times-bestselling author of the novels Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me is the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction.

She also is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her latest novel, Great Circle, was shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize.



portrait of Elizabeth Wetmore

Elizabeth Wetmore

This 2002 alumna published her first novel, Valentine, in 2020 at age 52. The book, set in the 1970s in her hometown of Odessa, Texas, quickly made the New York Times bestseller list and was optioned by HBO for a limited series.

She is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, two fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, and a grant from the Barbara Deming Foundation.



portrait of Joy Williams

Joy Williams

This 1965 alumna is the recipient of the 2021 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, which honors an American writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality and imagination.

She is the author of the novels State of GraceThe Changeling, Breaking and Entering, The Quick and the Dead, and Harrow; an essay collection; and several short story collections.


portrait of C Pam Zhang

C Pam Zhang

This 2019 graduate received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters and the Asian/Pacific Award for Literature for her debut novel, How Much of These Hills Is Gold, which also was nominated for the Booker Prize and selected as one of President Obama’s favorite books of 2020.

She received a 2017 Truman Capote Fellowship at Iowa and is a 2020 National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree.


The University of Iowa has educated more than 40 Pulitzer Prize winners, seven U.S. Poets Laureate, and countless award-winning playwrights, screenwriters, journalists, translators, novelists, and poets.