Ron Rash novel ‘Above the Waterfall’ garnering hot reviews

Ron Rash poses for a portrait at his home in Sylva on Monday, Aug. 24, two weeks before the release of his new novel “Under the Waterfall.” The book, like many of his past creations, is set in the Appalachian Mountains where his family has been for many generations. (Photo courtesy Mike Belleme for The Wall Street Journal)

Ron Rash poses for a portrait at his home in Sylva on Monday, Aug. 24, two weeks before the release of his new novel “Under the Waterfall.” The book, like many of his past creations, is set in the Appalachian Mountains where his family has been for many generations. (Photo courtesy Mike Belleme for The Wall Street Journal)

Ron Rash is on tour.

The author and WCU Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture is on the road in support of his latest novel, “Above the Waterfall,” published by Harper Collins. It is receiving positive reviews – some absolutely glowing – and plenty of them.

“It’s a very different kind of book for me and I wondered how readers would feel about it,” Rash said prior to his first stop at the Decatur, Ga. Book Festival over Labor Day weekend. “It’s good to hear it is getting a good reception. I generally don’t pay attention to reviews, positive or otherwise, but that is good to hear.”

Through October, he will make at least 18 appearances and readings. Author events range from St. Louis, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. to “the great town” of Oxford, Miss. to two visits within New York City; without forgetting local favorite bookstores in Asheville, Waynesville and Sylva.

“Above the Waterfall” is set in a contemporary mountain community and told through the voices of a sheriff nearing his retirement and a park ranger haunted by her past. They are drawn together by a reverence for the natural world. Underlying themes of the poverty, the beauty of the surrounding landscape, tourism and the plague of crystal meth inhabit this book, built around someone poisoning a stream resulting in a fish kill.

Rash is the author of six novels, including the New York Times bestseller “Serena,” and three books of poetry. A native of Boiling Springs, he teaches Appalachian literature and creative writing at WCU. His poetry and fiction have appeared in more than one hundred journals, magazines and anthologies. Rash was awarded an NEA Poetry Fellowship, the Sherwood Anderson Prize, the Novella Festival Novel Award, and twice winner of O. Henry awards.

“Above the Waterfall” in the words of reviewers:

"Above the Waterfall" was first published September 8 by Ecco Press division of Harper Collins.

“Above the Waterfall” was first published September 8 by Ecco Press division of Harper Collins.

Howard Frank Mosher, Washington Post: Rash is an enormously gifted storyteller, who knows exactly how to keep the dramatic tension in his fiction as taut as a fly line with a lunker on the hook.

Ali Marshall, Mountain Xpress: “Above the Waterfall” with its quiet intensity and natural beauty juxtaposed against human ugliness, is the work of a writer who’s found his way with words.

Dannye Romine Powell, Charlotte Observer: Reading “Above the Waterfall” is like walking a railroad track – the scenery along the way is great, and I’m enjoying the novel’s journey.

Tray Butler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The book begins as a lyrical, far-reaching reflection on nature and modern-day loneliness and flirts with a mishmash of ideas before evolving into an atypical Southern Noir whodunit.

Jonathan Mile, Garden and Gun: Like another Rash classic, “One Foot in Eden” (2002), “Above the Waterfall” soon reveals itself to be a crime novel, and despite the poetic veneer, Rash adheres to the genre’s pacing: It’s tight, propulsive, many-layered, and slippery, and it demands a degree of muscle strength to put down.

Ed Tarkington, Knoxville News Sentinel: With “Above the Waterfall,” Rash delivers another rich paean to his North Carolina mountains, imbued with his trademark empathy for the scarred and haunted, his poetic evocation of both the small and sweeping features of the natural world, and his searing criticism of the human failures that eat away at the heart and soul of Appalachia.

David Menconi, Clemson World Magazine: Like most of Rash’s books, “Above the Waterfall” is set in the place he knows best, the mountains and foothills of the Carolinas where he grew up and still lives, teaching at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. Beyond that, however, the new book might surprise some longtime fans because Rash calls it “the most hopeful, optimistic book I’ve ever written” — relatively speaking, of course.

Benjamin Percy, Esquire: Ron Rash is the kind of writer you want to call a Pulitzer-prize winner because it’s a foregone conclusion. … His new book, “Above the Waterfall” is a lushly-written page-turner set in rural North Carolina.

Ellen Gamerman, Wall Street Journal: The author makes a departure from his past writing with his new novel, which alternates between traditional prose and a poetic voice.