UNCG grad Wiley Cash (M.A. ‘01) burst onto the book world last year with a literary thriller set in his native Appalachia that met with considerable critical success and landed its young author on the New York Times Best Seller list during its first week of release, then rejoined the list as positive reviews came in and readers learned more about it. It eventually was named a 2012 New York Times Notable Book.
Author of A Land More Kind Than Home, Cash will appear for a talk and book signing at UNCG on February 13, courtesy of the Friends of the UNCG Libraries. The paperback version of the book is being released today, January 22.
An early reviewer in a publication called Fine Print asked two questions that seem to frame the book:
"What would you do if you saw something you weren't supposed to see and got caught in the act? More importantly, if you were on the other end and wanted to keep it a secret, how far would you go to make sure it never gets out? .”
A Land More Kind Than Home is told from the perspectives of three other characters: 81-year-old Adelaide Lyle, who represents the moral conscience of the community; the adolescent Jess Hall, who has a dangerous knack for discovering things adults would rather keep hidden; and the middle-aged sheriff Clem Barefield, who has never recovered from a loss he suffered years ago.
Cash is a native of western North Carolina who now lives in West Virginia. He says he has a lot of great memories from UNCG, many of them revolving around the library. As an MA student, he recalls, “I spent a ton of time there doing research on my thesis about North Carolina writer Charles W. Chesnutt, and really got to know the place well.” He continues, “I have a lot of memories of taking breaks at sunset and walking across campus to Tate Street to grab a slice of pizza or visit the Indian buffet. Those are some wonderfully rich memories. Cash says he owes much to other North Carolina writers, and cites UNCG’s own Fred Chappell as a major influence on his writing. Of Cash’s book, Chappell himself says, “I try to state the truth and dislike flinging superlatives about with mad abandon, but I have been so deeply impressed that only superlatives can convey the tenor of my thought: it is one of the most powerful novels I have ever read." Another influence was Louisiana writer Ernest J. Gaines, the subject of Cash’s dissertation for his PhD at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.Cash has received grants and fellowships from the Asheville Area Arts Council, the Thomas Wolfe Society, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. His stories have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Roanoke Review and The Carolina Quarterly, and his essays on Southern literature have appeared in American Literary Realism, The South Carolina Review, and other publications.
Wiley teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University.
No reservations are required to attend the reading, which is free and open to the public. Books will be available for sale and signing at the eventFor more, listen to Wiley Cash’s interview with Frank Stasio of WUNC radio.
Cash gives a self-deprecating 10 reasons why you should read the book in a video.This video trailer communicates the feel of the book, and, Cash says, “the music is fantastic.”