Award-winning novelist to read on campus

Reading first event in campus’s return to in-person arts

Katy Yocom
Katy Yocom

Prize-winning novelist Katy Yocom will read from her work next week at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

The reading, which is part of the university’s Spectrum arts series, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29 in the Mukaiyama University Room. The reading is free and open to the public, but those in attendance are required to wear face coverings in keeping with the university’s COVID-19 safety precautions.

Yocum’s debut novel, “Three Ways to Disappear,” was published in 2019 and won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature.

The novel follows Sarah DeVaughn, who leaves behind a nomadic and dangerous career as a journalist to return to India, the country of her childhood and a place of unspeakable family tragedy, to help preserve the endangered Bengal tigers. Meanwhile, at home in Kentucky, her sister, Quinn — also deeply scarred by the past and herself a keeper of secrets — tries to support her sister, even as she fears that India will be Sarah’s undoing.

As Sarah faces challenges abroad, including complex local politics and a forbidden love, Quinn copes with her son’s life-threatening illness and her own increasingly troubled marriage. When Sarah asks Quinn to join her in India, Quinn realizes that the only way to overcome the past is to return to it, and it is in this place of stunning natural beauty and hidden danger that the sisters can finally understand the ways in which their family has disappeared — from their shared history, from one another — and recognize that they may need to risk everything to find themselves again.

“Katy is an engaging speaker with an inspiring spirit of adventure and activism that comes through in her writing about travel and endangered species,” said Dr. Nancy McCabe, professor of writing. “But at the center of her work are characters that everyone will relate to.”

Yokom was born and raised in Atchison, Kan. After earning a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas, she moved to Louisville, Ky., where she has lived ever since. 

To research the novel, she traveled to India, funded by a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation.

Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, Salon, LitHub, American Way (the American Airlines magazine), The Louisville Review and elsewhere. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville.