Wiley Cash, Joined by Charles Frazier and Shannon Whitworth, to Launch Tour for New Novel, "The Last Ballad," in Oct. 3 Event at UNC Asheville

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Wiley Cash poses with his new book

Wiley Cash will launch the national tour for his latest book, The Last Ballad, in a special event at UNC Asheville featuring an on-stage discussion between Cash and fellow novelist Charles Frazier, and music performed by Shannon Whitworth. This event takes place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3, in Lipinsky Auditorium on campus, and is free and open to everyone, with general admission and no tickets required. Books will be available for sale, with a book-signing session following the event.

The Last Ballad tells the story of the 1929 strike by textile workers at the Loray Mill in Cash’s home town, Gastonia, N.C. Cash and Frazier, both famed for their vivid portraits of the people, history and culture of the Appalachian region, will discuss the story behind The Last Ballad and their creative process. Cash also will read an excerpt. Whitworth will perform her own original songs as well as ballads written by a union organizer who was killed during the Loray Mill strike. Cash has chosen to launch his book tour at his alma mater – he graduated from UNC Asheville in the year 2000 and is now writer-in-residence at the university.

"The Last Ballad, which is based on true events, tells the story of Ella May Wiggins, a young, single mother who's swept up in the struggle for more humane wages, conditions and work hours for herself and other textile workers,” said Cash. “I tried to capture the particular historical moment when gender, race, class, and politics converged in a violent storm that spelled tragedy for anyone willing to take a stand for equality and individual rights. Unfortunately, we're seeing this exact same storm play out across our country in events like this summer's white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer. Similar events occur in The Last Ballad. It may be 2017, but 1929 is not far behind us.

“These are the kinds of issues that were discussed in my Southern Literature course at UNC Asheville and in classrooms across this campus,” said Cash. “It's fitting that I launch my novel at a place so devoted to tackling contemporary issues that are rooted in our collective history as a nation. This is humanities-based education at work."

Cash, who earned a master’s degree at UNCG and his Ph.D. at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, burst onto national best-seller lists five years ago with his debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home. Set in Madison County and chronicling the lives of a snake-handling preacher, his congregation and the sheriff who investigates the church, the novel became a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and won awards from the U.K.’s Crime Writers’ Association and the Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance. Cash’s second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, also set in Western North Carolina and also a best-seller, was an O Magazine Top Ten Title.

Frazier is an Asheville native and resident whose debut novel, Cold Mountain, won the 1997 National Book Award for Fiction. Cold Mountain was adapted as a movie that won one Oscar and was nominated for six others. Frazier’s two subsequent books, Thirteen Moons and Nightwoods, are also set in the Appalachian Mountains.

Whitworth, of Brevard, N.C., was once the lead singer and songwriter of The Biscuit Burners and has recorded three albums under her own name, No Expectations, Water Bound, and her most recent, High Tide.

For more information, contact UNC Asheville’s Events & Conferences Office at events@unca.edu or 828.251.6853.