WCU novelist Ron Rash wins second Sir Walter Raleigh Award

Ron Rash, the Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture at Western Carolina University, is recipient of the 2009 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction for his fourth novel, “Serena.”

The award is presented annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association in recognition of works of fiction that exhibit “creative and imaginative quality, excellence of style, universality of appeal, and relevance to North Carolina and her people.”

Rash (pictured at right) will pick up his award at a February meeting of the association in Greensboro. He also won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award in 2006 – that one for his third novel, “The World Made Straight.”

Published in October 2008, “Serena” tells the story of timber baron George Pemberton and his ruthless wife, Serena, who come to the North Carolina mountains to create a timber empire. The book drew widespread praise from critics across the nation after its release. A New York Times reviewer complimented Rash’s “elegantly fine-tuned voice” and listed the book as one of her 10 favorites of 2008, and “Serena” made the “best of 2008” lists of Publishers Weekly, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle. The book also was No. 7 in online retailer Amazon’s list of the 100 best books of 2008.

A native of Boiling Springs, Rash teaches Appalachian literature and creative writing at WCU. His next book, a compilation of short stories titled “Burning Bright,” will be released in March.