Winner of the 2021 Permafrost Prize in fiction
“Sin 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.”
—Juli Iromuanya, 2021 Permafrost Prize judge and assistant professor, University of Chicago
“By turns magical and mundane, hilarious and heartbreaking, these stories herald the arrival of a wonderful new writer whose books I will greet with excitement and anticipation for years to come.”
—Andrew Malan Milward, author of I Was a Revolutionary
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.