An American fiction writer, he is known for The End of California, Prisoners of War, Visible Spirits, The Oxygen Man, and other novels. His short story collections include Mississippi History, Veneer, and Family Men.
He received his B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Mississippi and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas.
He won both the Mississippi Authors Award and the California Book Award.
He grew up in Mississippi and later taught creative writing at California State University in Fresno and Emerson College in Boston. With his wife, Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough, he had two daughters.
He won the 2010 Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.