October turned out to be a good month for collecting awards for Western Carolina University faculty member and author Ron Rash, who was honored for his literary body of work by organizations in both Carolinas while also pulling in an award for his latest book from the far away Rocky Mountains of Canada.
Rash, who has been Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture at WCU for 10 years, traveled to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill early in October to be recognized as recipient of the 2013 Thomas Wolfe Prize, which is bestowed by that university’s English department to recognize contemporary writers with distinguished bodies of work. Rash also delivered the associated Thomas Wolfe Lecture during his visit. The Wolfe prize honors the memory of one of UNC-Chapel Hill’s most famous alumni, “Look Homeward, Angel” author and Asheville native Thomas Clayton Wolfe.
Also in October, Rash received a 2013 Governor’s Award in the Humanities from the Humanities Council of South Carolina. Rash was one of three recipients of the honor, which recognizes excellence in defining South Carolina’s cultural life to the nation or world. Rash spent part of his boyhood in South Carolina, earned a master’s degree in English at Clemson University, and has based some of his acclaimed novels in the state.
In mid-October, Rash learned that his most recent literary release, the short story collection “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” was named winner of the Mountain Fiction and Poetry Award at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Banff, Alberta, in Canada. Rash’s book was one of five category winners chosen from a field of more than 130 titles.
Published last February by Ecco/Harper Collins, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is scheduled to be released in paperback in January.
As the accolades come in, Rash said he is continuing his current focus on writing short stories, with several in a finished state and more in the works. After being on leave from his teaching duties at WCU last spring semester, he is back in the classroom this fall semester.
Rash’s 14 published works include 10 books of fiction (five novels and five books of short stories) and four volumes of poetry. Filming for a movie adaptation of his bestselling novel “Serena” took place in early 2012 in the Czech Republic. The movie features Hollywood heavyweights Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and Rash said he expects it to be released early in 2014.