Sycamore … A Novel

Bryn Chancellor

Bryn Chancellor is an assistant professor of creative writing at UNC Charlotte.

Out for a hike one scorching afternoon in Sycamore, Arizona, a newcomer to town stumbles across what appear to be human remains embedded in the wall of a dry desert ravine. As news of the discovery makes its way around town, Sycamore’s longtime residents fear the bones may belong to Jess Winters, a teenage girl who disappeared suddenly some 18 years earlier, an unsolved mystery that has soaked into the porous rock of the town and haunted it ever since. In the days it takes the authorities to make an identification, the residents rekindle stories, rumors and recollections both painful and poignant as they revisit Jess’s troubled history. In resurrecting the past, the people of Sycamore find clarity, unexpected possibility and a way forward for their lives.

In 2017, Sycamore was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s “O’s Top 20 Books to Read This Summer” and was chosen by Publishers Weekly’s as a starred review and Pick of the Week. Bustle included Sycamore in “The 17 Best Debut Novels by Women in 2017,” and Amazon picked it as one of “100 books of 2017.” It has been optioned for television.

Chancellor’s earlier story collection When Are You Coming Home? won the 2014 Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and her short fiction has appeared in a range of publications including Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, and Phoebe. She was awarded the 2014 Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in fiction as well as literary fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She is a recipient of a 2017-18 Artist Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council and scholarships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers’ conferences.