Katya Cengel is a freelance writer and author based in California. Her work has appeared in New York Times Magazine, Marie Claire and Smithsonian among other publications.
She is the author of Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) 2020 winner and Foreword Indies 2019 winner “From Chernobyl with Love: Reporting from the Ruins of the Soviet Union” (Potomac, 2019); “Exiled: From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to California and Back” (Potomac, 2018) and 2013 Kentucky Literary Award finalist “Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life” (Nebraska, 2012).
She has been awarded grants from the International Reporting Project, the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International Center for Journalists. Her 2017 article “My brother’s killer is now my friend” was named one of BBC’s “Best big reads of 2017”.
From Chernobyl with Love: Reporting from the Ruins of the Soviet Union
Less than two decades ago, young writers, journalists, and adventurers such as Katya Cengel flocked from the West eastward to cities like Prague and Budapest, seeking out terra nova. Despite the region’s appeal, neither Kyiv in the Ukraine nor Riga in Latvia was the type of place you would expect to find a twenty-two-year-old Californian just out of college. Kyiv was too close to Moscow. Riga was too small to matter—and too cold. But Cengel ended up living and working in both. This book is her remarkable story.
Cengel first took a job at the Baltic Times just seven years after Latvia regained its independence. The idea of a free press in the Eastern Bloc was still so promising that she ultimately moved to the Ukraine. From there Cengel made several trips to Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. It was at Chernobyl that she met her fiancé, but as she fell in love, the Ukraine collapsed into what would become the Orange Revolution, bringing it to the brink of political disintegration and civil war. Ultimately, this fall of idealism in the East underscores Cengel’s own loss of innocence. From Chernobyl with Love is an indelible portrait of this historical epoch and a memoir of the highest order.
Exiled: From the Killing Fields of Cambodia to California and Back2018
Bluegrass Baseball: A Year in the Minor League Life2012
Awards and Recognition
- Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) winner 2020
- Foreword Indies 2019 winner