Steve Yarbrough, the English professor at California State University, Fresno whose award-winning fiction is set in Mississippi, will unveil his newest novel, “The End of California,” at a Wednesday, June 7, reading and book-signing on campus.
The book will be published the day before by Alfred Knopf, and Yarbrough launches a publicity tour June 11 in Blytheville, Ark. “The End of California” also is a Book of the Month Club selection.
At Fresno State, Yarbrough will read from the new novel at 7 p.m. at the Wahlberg Concert Hall in the Music Building (2380 E. Keats Ave.). Copies of the book will be available for sale ($23.95) and will be autographed by Yarbrough after the reading. There is no charge to attend the event.
“The End of California” is about a young man from Loring, Miss., who goes to Fresno State to play football and then becomes a well-known physician before a scandal sends him back to Mississippi. He re-establishes himself as a doctor, but his wife and teenaged daughter must cope with a strange place while he is unsettled by reminders of his past.
“In ‘The End of California,’ one of the things I tried to address was the question of what California has always meant to people in the rest of the country,” said Yarbrough. “Like my main character, I grew up in Mississippi, then moved to the Golden State, so I feel as if I’ve got one foot in each world. And they are indeed separate worlds, if not separate universes.”
He could devote time to his new novel as the James and Coke Hallowell Distinguished Professor in Creative Writing at Fresno State, where Yarbrough is a mainstay of the master of fine arts program.
“James and Coke Hallowell have made it possible for me to pursue my two lives –writing and teaching — without slighting either one,” Yarbrough said. “I hope their devotion to the arts will inspire others to support our nationally-respected MFA program.”
Yarbrough came to the Fresno campus in 1988 after winning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Mississippi and a master of fine arts from the University of Arkansas. He established a reputation for his short stories. His first novel, “The Oxygen Man,” was published in 1999, then “Visible Spirits” in 2001 and “Prisoners of War” in 2004, both set in Loring.
Yarbrough won the California Book Award from the Commonwealth Club of California in 2000 and was the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Southern Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi in 1999-2000. He was a finalist for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 2005 for “Prisoners of War.”
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