American Sycamore

THE BOOK:  American Sycamore.


THE AUTHOR:  Karen Fielding

THE EDITOR: Penny Thomas

: Seren Books, Seren is Wales’ leading independent literary publisher.  Seren books are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across the UK and America.

SUMMARY: American Sycamore is off-beat literary fiction about a bunch of losers and floaters living by a riverscape in 1970’s America.  It’s a funny and fractious narrative about not fitting-in. American Sycamore won The Independent Publisher’s Gold Award in 2015 for Best Fiction in the mid-Atlantic states. 

Image result for Karen Fielding + American Sycamore + photos

THE BACK STORYOne day it struck me how I move house a lot, from one river to another. Then I thought about all the experiences and personalities swirling and lurking around each river and then I thought the river I know best was my childhood own, the Susquehanna River, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I thought I’d dock the canoe in my own mind there and start writing from the “what I know” perspective or at least, what I think I might know.

The book took me eight years to write. I have no excuse for that other than I am a terrible procrastinator and have a perfectionist streak which consigned most sentences and paragraphs to the delete key.


WHY THIS TITLE?: I remember a book by Tama Janowitz called “American Dad” and I literally stole half her title.


Readers who appreciate an easy-going read might like American Sycamore. 


REVIEW COMMENTSAmerican Sycamore by Karen Fielding (now in pbk)Karen Fielding’s Blog – ISABEL HUGGAN – January 10, 2014 23:37Karen Fielding’s Blog – San Francisco Book Review – January 10, 2014 23:44

E: Born in Philadelphia, I grew up along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I attended the area schools and graduated bottom of my class.  Then I went to Boston University where concepts and ideas discussed in philosophy, literature, and symbolism in fine art lifted me out of the usual academic malaise and into something fantastic. I read Lionel Trilling and Richard Brautigan, Albert Camus and Karl Marx.  I wanted to write a book like “Trout Fishing in America” because I had never read anything like it before — nor since.

  The protagonist, Billy Sycamore, really did love to fish.  He wanted to fit-in to life around him and within him but sometimes, for some of us, it’s just not that straightforward. I think a point I hoped to make with American Sycamore was that it’s the simplest things in life, like fishing, that can bring joy and fill the existential void.  Fishing is a metaphor for finding peace without drama.  Our world imposes on us every single day to have more be better be the best. Some of us thrive under the pressure; and some of us don’t.  American Sycamore is about what can happen when society’s expectations become mostly self-destructive.


LOCAL OUTLETS: Waterstones, UK

WHERE ELSE TO BUY ITAmerican Sycamore at amazon uk or amazon com

PRICE: £8.99

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:Karen Fielding’s Blog

Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

One thought on “American Sycamore”

  1. Interesting concept. Growing up along the Allegheny River in the 60s, it feels familiar to me. I will check this one out. Good luck with the book.


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