ASHEVILLE NC – Wiley Cash, UNC Asheville graduate and author of two best-selling novels, will return to his alma mater to teach courses and mentor students as writer-in-residence for the 2016-17 academic year.
“Since graduating in 2000, I’ve taken every opportunity to return to UNC Asheville, whether it be as a member of the National Alumni Council or as the speaker at the 2015 May Commencement, but I never imagined that I’d be able to return as writer-in-residence,” said Cash. “It’s an honor to have the chance to work with such intelligent, creative students alongside literature and language faculty members I’ve so long admired.”
“We look forward to bringing Wiley back to the classroom, where he’ll work and write side-by-side with our students, encouraging them to find their voices as writers and as community citizens,” said UNC Asheville Chancellor Mary K. Grant. “His ability to capture the character of Western North Carolina – an ability which stems from his own undergraduate study of literature and Appalachian history here – will also offer meaningful opportunities for the community to engage in the literature that tells our shared story.”
Cash’s first novel, A Land More Kind than Home (William Morrow, 2012), set in Madison County, reached The New York Times best-seller list in hardcover, paperback and e-book. It won the Western North Carolina Historical Association’s Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, the Appalachian Writers’ Association’s Book of the Year award, and was named a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize.
He followed that success with This Dark Road to Mercy (William Morrow, 2014), a national best-seller which was optioned for film and became a finalist for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award. The novel was an Indie Next Pick, an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance, a LibraryReads selection and an Amazon Book of the Month.
Cash earned a master’s degree at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Ph.D. at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from UNC Asheville at the university’s May 2015 Commencement. He also returned to campus in 2013 to offer a reading as the Goodman Endowed Visiting Artist.
Cash says he will use the writer-in-residence position to help introduce other high-profile authors to students and the community. “One aspect of the position I’m really excited about is the responsibility of organizing a reading series that will bring best-selling and award-winning poets and prose writers to campus,” said Cash. “I’m devoted to introducing students to successful authors who are talented, accessible, collegial and kind.”
“Wiley Cash is among the strongest voices in a new generation of American writers to emerge from the rich literary landscape of the South,” said UNC Asheville Provost Joe Urgo. “He is also the product of a UNC Asheville education, and we are pleased to welcome him home. Wiley will invigorate an already superb creative writing program at Asheville, adding to the resources we offer our students whose creative lives are now in the process of taking shape and direction.”
Cash will take his position as UNC Asheville writer-in-residence at the start of the fall 2016 semester.