New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash was recently presented the Heasley Prize for Fiction at Lyon College on Thursday, Nov. 17. Cash presented a public reading of his book before accepting the award in the Bevens Music Room of the Brown Chapel.
Wiley Cash drew an overflow crowd for his Thursday evening reading at Lyon College, with volunteers bringing in some two dozen extra chairs to accommodate students and faculty from Lyon and many from the Batesville community.
For his reading Cash selected a short story he had published in an Appalachian journal but had never read publicly beforehand, noting that it had a mystical element he does not include in his more realistic novels.
According to Dr. Terrell Tebbetts of Lyon College’s English department, this powerful and beautiful novel “cements Cash’s growing reputation as an outstanding contemporary writer every reader should know.”
For some half hour after the reading Cash answered questions from his audience and advised young writers on developing their skill, telling them to read, read, and read, always looking for how their favorite writers make their stories readable.
Following Cash's presentation. Lyon President Dr. Melissa Taverner and Heasley Prize Selection Chair Dr. Terrell Tebbetts presented Cash with the 2022 Leila Lenore Heasley Prize for Fiction, the 25th award presented since the inauguration of the prize.
Cash gained literary recognition for his award-winning debut novel, "A Land More Kind Than Home" (2012), a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town. His second novel, the acclaimed "This Dark Road to Mercy" (2014), is about two young sisters and their estranged father, and "The Last Ballad" (2017), is a historical novel based on the life of workers’ rights activist Ella May Wiggins.
At the end of the evening Cash signed books attendees had brought or had bought at the reading from Batesville's Paper Chase Bookstore, which had a table there with Cash's most recent novel on sale.
Cash is a native North Carolinian, and his work enlivens the landscape of this beloved home and the people he knows so well. His latest novel, "When Ghosts Come Home" (2021), is again set in North Carolina, but this time Cash shifts from the mountainous region of the state to the east coast beach town of Oak Island. Cash’s prose and storytelling are emboldened in this fully loaded suspense novel.