Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize

April 5, 2018

Adam Latham will receive an award of $2,000 as the 2018 winner of the Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize for outstanding short fiction. His story, “The Lizard Man,” published in the Fall 2016 issue of the online journal Blackbird, was selected by the editors among fiction published in the journal over the previous two-year period.

Latham will receive the award at Virginia Commonwealth University on April 5, 2018 (7PM at VCU Cabell Library), and give a reading from his prize-winning work, in conjunction with a reading by the well-known short fiction writer, poet, essayist, editor, and creative writing teacher David Jauss. Documentation of the event will appear in a future issue of Blackbird.

The prize is sponsored by the family of Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto in her memory to honor her devotion to the art of writing fiction, to expand the audience for outstanding short stories, and to encourage literary excellence among fiction writers, with particular emphasis on recognition for work by an emerging or underappreciated writer.

Latham’s story features clear, poignant prose that weaves together encounters with both grief and the supernatural in the hunt for an apocryphal monster that is also a search for relief and absolution from an unbearable guilt. The Lizard Man monster, referred to in the title and story, actually arises from legendary accounts of a reptilian humanoid lurking in and around the woods of Lee County, South Carolina.

Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto was born September 21, 1945 in Richmond, Virginia. Her sustained interest in writing led to her fiction being published in a number of literary journals as well as winning several competitions, including the 1996 and 2000 Short Fiction contests sponsored by Richmond Magazine. She was a graduate of St. Gertrude’s High School in Richmond and of Virginia Commonwealth University (class of 1967), and in 1971 she received an MA in English from the University of Michigan. She died in October of 2007 after being struck in a pedestrian crosswalk in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Her husband, David H. Tarumoto, established the award in her memory at VCU in 2010; he continued to live in California until his death there in 2016, aged seventy-five.

While funding for the prize itself comes from David Tarumoto’s endowment, The Department of English welcomes contributions in support of the celebration event as well as the outreach activities of the Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Prize, which often includes visits by the winning writers with high school and elementary students from Richmond area schools. Anyone wishing to make a donation is invited to visit the secure online contributions page at, click on "Search," and type in "Tarumoto" to access the correct link.