Local novelist Wiley Cash named UNC-Asheville writer-in-residence

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Best-selling novelist Wiley Cash will head back to UNC-Asheville next year, this time as an instructor. Photo by Tiffany Davis, courtesy Wiley Cash.
Best-selling novelist Wiley Cash will head back to UNC-Asheville next year, this time as an instructor. Photo by Tiffany Davis, courtesy Wiley Cash.

A best-selling local author is returning to his alma mater.

Wiley Cash has been selected as UNC-Asheville’s 2016-17 writer in residence. This time around on campus, Cash will be at the head of the class, teaching and mentoring students.

Cash called the opportunity and honor, noting his admiration of the university’s English department faculty.

“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,” Cash said in a release from UNCA.

Cash’s first novel, “A Land More Kind than Home,” was published in 2012 to rave reviews, reaching The New York Times best-seller list in hardcover, paperback and e-book. It received the Western North Carolina Historical Association’s Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and the Appalachian Writers’ Association’s Book of the Year award, and was named a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize.

He followed up with 2014’s “This Dark Road to Mercy,” a national best-seller that 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.

“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,” UNCA chancellor Mary Grant said. “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.”

Following his undergraduate studies, Cash earned a master’s degree from UNC-Greensboro and his doctorate at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Earlier this year, UNCA gave him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

As writer-in-residence, Cash plans to 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,” he said. “I’m devoted to introducing students to successful authors who are talented, accessible, collegial and kind.”

Cash will begin his stint at UNCA at the start of the fall 2016 semester.