CULLOWHEE – The Southeast Booksellers Association has recognized “Saints at the River” by Western Carolina University English professor Ron Rash as the best Southern novel of 2005, part of the organization’s recently announced seventh annual SEBA Book Awards.
Sponsored by book distribution company Baker & Taylor, the awards recognize great books of Southern origin, as voted upon by SEBA core bookstore members. “This year’s list of nominees was truly impressive,” said Wanda Jewell, executive director of SEBA. “The winning titles represent the books that our member booksellers most enjoyed reading and hand-selling this past year.”
Rash and other winning authors are expected to attend the Fall SEBA Trade Show Kick-Off Luncheon and Awards Ceremony in Winston-Salem in September. Each author will receive a $500 cash prize and framed book jacket at the awards luncheon sponsored by Baker & Taylor.
The SEBA award is the latest in a series of honors for Rash, who holds the Parris Distinguished Professorship of Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western. He is a recipient of a prestigious O. Henry Prize for short fiction for 2005 for his story “Speckle Trout.” He also is winner of this year’s Weatherford Award for Fiction presented by the Appalachian Studies Association and Berea College, and the 2005 Thomas and Lillie B. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, presented by Morehead State University in Kentucky .
Rash is author of two critically acclaimed novels based in the Appalachians – his debut novel “One Foot in Eden,” which was Western’s freshman summer reading selection for 2004, and “Saints at the River.” “One Foot in Eden” won the 2003 Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award and Foreword Magazine’s Gold Medal for Best Literary Novel of 2002. The Fellowship of Southern Writers presented Rash the James Still Award for Writing of the Appalachian South in November 2004.