Ron Rash, Appalachian author with universal voice, headlines Lanier Library’s annual meeting

Published 4:42 pm Monday, May 1, 2017

New York Times best-selling novelist Ron Rash has been called the “Appalachian Shakespeare” and been lauded by The Washington Post as “one of the few writers at work today with the insight, the talent and vision to show us how sometimes, for all our sorry shortcomings, we’re able to achieve a certain redemption through our capacity for kindness and mercy.” 

He is praised for his “incandescent, profound, and accessible” poetry, has won numerous awards for his short stories, his novels are consistently on the New York Times Bestseller list, and he will visit Tryon this month to present “Appalachia on My Mind: A Reading From and Discussion of My Work” at the Lanier Library’s Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 11 at 3 p.m. 

Ron Rash’s latest novel, “The Risen,” is a mystery that explores themes of poverty, child neglect sanctioned by religion, and abuse authorized by a self-righteous class system. The exploration of such challenging themes and the writing itself became a personal exorcism of sorts for Rash. He will be speaking and holing a book signing at Tryon Fine Arts Center June 11 at 3 p.m.

“We are thrilled and proud to be able to bring Mr. Rash to Tryon, and to share him with the community” said Library Director Amber Keeran. “He is one of our members’ most popular authors. His voice and images resonate with the poetry of this region in which we live, and although southern by birth and subject, he speaks with a universal voice that obviously transcends geography. We are grateful to the Polk County Community Foundation whose Kirby Endowment Fund makes this program possible.”

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Rash grew up in Boiling Springs, S.C. and is a graduate of Gardner-Webb University and Clemson University. His family has lived in the southern Appalachians since the 1700s, their handed-down stories contributing to his inveterate love for the land, and influencing the themes and voice of his writing.

He has won the prestigious Frank O’Connor prize for his short stories, been a PEN/Faulkner finalist, a two-time winner of the O. Henry Prize, and winner of the James Still Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His poetry is often compared to the work of Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize in 1995.

To hear more about the writing and life of a man Richard Russo describes as “a writer of both the darkly beautiful and sadly true,” come to the Tryon Fine Arts Center on Sunday, June 11 at 3 p.m. The Lanier Library Annual Meeting is free and open to the public thanks to the Polk County Community Foundation’s Kirby Endowment Fund. Following Mr. Rash’s presentation, a reception and book signing will be held at the library.

– article submitted by Clare O’Sheel