Ron Rash books in order
Ron Rash is an American poet, storyteller and an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of literary fiction novels.
A Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University, Ron also writes mystery and historical fiction novels.
Born in Chester, South Carolina, and raised in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, he holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from Gardner-Webb University and Clemson University respectively.
Since publishing The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth in 1994, his first collection of short stories, Ron has published several poetry collections, short story collections and standalone novels.
His poems and stories have appeared in over 100 magazines and journals, with his works receiving various awards such as the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and the O. Henry Prize.
Ron currently teaches at Western Carolina University.
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Poetry
- One Foot in Eden (2002)
- Saints at the River (2004)
- The World Made Straight (2006)
- Serena (2008)
- The Cove (2012)
- Above the Waterfall (2014)
- The Risen (2016)
- The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth: And Other Stories from Cliffside, North Carolina (1994)
- Eureka Mill (1998)
- Among the Believers (2000)
- Casualties (2000)
- Raising the Dead (2002)
- Chemistry and Other Stories (2007)
- Burning Bright (2010)
- Waking (2011)
- My Father Like a River (2013)
- Nothing Gold Can Stay (2013)
- The Ron Rash Reader (2014)
- Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories (2014)
- Poems: New and Selected (2016)
- Southword 36 (2019)
- In the Valley (2020)
- The Shark's Tooth (2015)
Detailed book overview
Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows that the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the sheriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest to the killing.
Simply, almost elementally told through the voices of the sheriff, a local farmer, his beautiful wife, their son, and the sheriff's deputy, One Foot in Eden signals the bellwether arrival of Ron Rash, one the most mature and distinctive voices in Southern literature.
When a twelve-year-old girl drowns in the Tamassee River and her body is trapped in a deep eddy, the people of the small South Carolina town that bears the river's name are thrown into the national spotlight. The girl's parents want to attempt a rescue of the body; environmentalists are convinced the rescue operation will cause permanent damage to the river and set a dangerous precedent. Torn between the two sides is Maggie Glenn, a twenty-eight-year-old newspaper photographer who grew up in the town and has been sent to document the incident.
Since leaving home almost ten years ago, Maggie has done her best to avoid her father, but now, as the town's conflict opens old wounds, she finds herself revisiting the past she's fought so hard to leave behind. Meanwhile, the reporter who's accompanied her to cover the story turns out to have a painful past of his own, and one that might stand in the way of their romance.
Travis Shelton is seventeen the summer he wanders into the woods onto private property outside his North Carolina hometown, discovers a grove of marijuana large enough to make him some serious money, and steps into the jaws of a bear trap.
After hours of passing in and out of consciousness, Travis is discovered by Carlton Toomey, the wise and vicious farmer who set the trap to protect his plants, and Travis's confrontation with the subtle evils within his rural world has begun.
Before long, Travis has moved out of his parents' home to live with Leonard Shuler, a one-time schoolteacher who lost his job and custody of his daughter years ago, when he was framed by a vindictive student.
Now Leonard lives with his dogs and his sometime girlfriend in a run-down trailer outside town, deals a few drugs, and studies journals from the Civil War.
Travis becomes his student, of sorts, and the fate of these two outsiders becomes increasingly entwined as the community's terrible past and corrupt present bear down on each of them from every direction, leading to a violent reckoning―not only with Toomey, but with the legacy of the Civil War massacre that, even after a century, continues to divide an Appalachian community.
The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness.
Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.
Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe–just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin.
Then it happens–a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel's heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known.
But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything–and danger is closer than they know. Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them.
Les, a long-time sheriff just three-weeks from retirement, contends with the ravages of crystal meth and his own duplicity in his small Appalachian town.
Becky, a park ranger with a harrowing past, finds solace amid the lyrical beauty of this patch of North Carolina.
Enduring the mistakes and tragedies that have indelibly marked them, they are drawn together by a reverence for the natural world. When an irascible elderly local is accused of poisoning a trout stream, Les and Becky are plunged into deep and dangerous waters, forced to navigate currents of disillusionment and betrayal that will force them to question themselves and test their tentative bond—and threaten to carry them over the edge.
While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in 1969, sixteen-year-old Eugene and his older brother, Bill, meet the entrancing Ligeia.
A sexy, free-spirited redhead from Daytona Beach banished to their small North Carolina town, Ligeia entrances the brothers, especially Eugene, who is drawn to her raw sensuality and rebellious attitude. Eugene begins to move farther and farther away from his brother, the cautious and dutiful Bill, and when Ligeia vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, the growing rift between the two brothers becomes immutable.
Decades later, the once close brothers now lead completely different lives. Bill is a gifted and successful surgeon, and a paragon of the community, while Eugene, the town reprobate, is a failed writer and determined alcoholic. When a shocking reminder of the past unexpectedly surfaces, Eugene is plunged back into that fateful summer, and the girl he cannot forget.
The deeper Eugene delves into his memories, the closer he comes to finding the truth. But can Eugene’s recollections be trusted? And will the truth set him free and offer salvation...or destroy his damaged life and everyone he loves?
The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth was originally released in 1994 and was the first published book from acclaimed writer Ron Rash. This twentieth anniversary edition takes us back to where it all began with ten linked short stories, framed like a novel, introducing us to a trio of memorable narrators—Tracy, Randy, and Vincent—making their way against the hardscrabble backdrop of the North Carolina foothills.
With a comedic touch that may surprise readers familiar only with Rash’s later, darker fiction, these earnest tales reveal the hard lessons of good whiskey, bad marriages, weak foundations, familial legacies, questionable religious observances, and the dubious merits of possum breeding, as well as the hard-won reconciliations with self, others, and home that can only be garnered in good time.
The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth shows us the promising beginnings of a master storyteller honing his craft and contributing from the start to the fine traditions of southern fiction and lore. This Southern Revivals edition includes a new introduction from the author and a contextualizing preface from series editor Robert H. Brinkmeyer, director of the University of South Carolina Institute for Southern Studies.
First published in 1998, Eureka Mill is Ron Rash’s seminal collection of poetry. It introduced the world to an often overlooked Appalachian region and cemented Rash’s name as synonymous with Southern writing.
Eureka Mill presents a lyrical portrait of the migration of poor North Carolina farmers to Chester, South Carolina to work in the Eureka Cotton Mill in the years before the Great Depression. Drawing on his family history in the region that stretches back three hundred years, Rash assembles a nuanced tapestry of mill village life, from the foremen in their offices to the men and women at the looms toiling in the often inhumane conditions of the mills.
Rash’s poetry elevates the people and landscapes of rural Appalachia to incandescent heights, garnering comparisons to the work of Seamus Heaney and Robert Frost. Still one of Rash’s finest works to date, Eureka Mill is a vital record of one of the South’s most important historic shifts, offering readers at once intimacy and perspective, heart and understanding.
This book of poetry is based on the historical realities of the mountains of western North Carolina, where Mr. Rash's ancestry goes back for at least five generations. These skillfully crafted and highly compact poems capture the spirit and feeling, the beauty and cruelty, of a place and time which has now largely faded from the American Landscape.
The overall theme of this poetry book is loss, both the social loss from the disappearance of communities due to the external effects of technology, and the personal loss from the death of a family member. The book is divided into five sections with the first and last dealing with the social impacts of the flooding of the Jocassee Valley on the border of North and South Carolina.
As in his other books, Rash is very precise in his use of language, with the prosody being informed by Welsh forms. Many of the poems use a style of syllabic verse featuring seven- syllable lines with internal echos, but most readers will not notice the craftsmanship of these poems because they flow so naturally. There is great narrative intensity in these poems with short poems of short lines telling detailed and vivid stories.
From the pre-eminent chronicler of this forgotten territory, stories that range over one hundred years in the troubled, violent emergence of the New South.
In Ron Rash's stories, spanning the entire twentieth century in Appalachia, rural communities struggle with the arrival of a new era.
Three old men stalk the shadow of a giant fish no one else believes is there. A man takes up scuba diving in the town reservoir to fight off a killing depression. A grieving mother leads a surveyor into the woods to name once and for all the county where her son was murdered by thieves.
In the Appalachia of Ron Rash's stories, the collision of the old and new south, of antique and modern, resonate with the depth and power of ancient myths.
In Burning Bright, Pen/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena, Ron Rash, captures the eerie beauty and stark violence of Appalachia through the lives of unforgettable characters.
With this masterful collection of stories that span the Civil War to the present day, Rash, a supremely talented writer who “recalls both John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy” (The New Yorker), solidifies his reputation as a major contemporary American literary artist.
Rooted in places like Watauga County, Goshen Creek, and Dismal Mountain, the poems in Ron Rash’s fourth collection, Waking, electrify dry counties and tobacco fields until they sparkle with the rituals and traditions of Southerners in the stir of their lives. In his first book of poetry in nearly a decade, Rash leads his readers on a Southern odyssey, full of a terse wit and a sense of the narrative so authentic it will dazzle you.
As we wake inside these poems, we see rivers wild with trout, lightning storms, and homemade churches, nailed and leaning against the side of a Tennessee mountain. A two-time PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, Rash has been compared to writers like John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy. With his eye for the perfect detail and an ear for regional idiom, Rash furthers his claim as the new torchbearer for literature in the American South.
Here is a book full of sorrow and redemption, sparseness and the beauty of a single, stark detail―the muskellunge at first light, a barn choked with curing tobacco, a porch full of men and the rockers that move them over the same spot until they carve their names into the ground, deeper, even, into the roots where myths start, into the very marrow of the world.
Ron Rash, PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena and The Cove, has been called "a gorgeous writer" (Richard Price) with a "reputation for writerly miracles" (Janet Maslin, The New York Times), and is been heralded as "one of our very finest novelists" (Richard Russo).
Now comes an exclusive eSingle featuring a never-before-published short story that shows the lyrical and masterful Ron Rash at his very best. My Father Like a River transcends the haunting landscape of Rash's native south and explores the complex, powerful relationship between father and family, and the authentic sense of loss one experiences while unemployed—all told in vivid, potent prose.
From Ron Rash, PEN / Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena, comes a new collection of unforgettable stories set in Appalachia that focuses on the lives of those haunted by violence and tenderness, hope and fear—spanning the Civil War to the present day.
The darkness of Ron Rash’s work contrasts with its unexpected sensitivity and stark beauty in a manner that could only be accomplished by this master of the short story form.
Nothing Gold Can Stay includes 14 stories, including Rash’s “The Trusty,” which first appeared in The New Yorker.
Over the last three decades, Ron Rash has emerged as one of the quintessential American writers of his generation. He has steadily gained critical and commercial recognition from his native Carolinas to an increasingly international audience.
With four volumes of poetry, four short story collections, and five novels as evidence of his multifaceted talent, Rash has amassed an impressive list of accolades, including the O. Henry Prize, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the Sherwood Anderson Prize, the James Still Award of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Weatherford Award for best novel, and the Fiction Book of the Year Award from the Southern Book Critics Circle.
The Ron Rash Reader is a collection of essential works that covers the full range of Rash's career to date, from his first published collection of stories, The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth and Other Stories from Cliffside, North Carolina (1994), to Nothing Gold Can Stay: Stories (2012) and includes previously unpublished material as well.
Edited by Randall Wilhelm, this collection of more than sixty of Rash's writings demonstrates his remarkable breadth and vitality across genres―from short stories and verse to novel excerpts and nonfiction―comprising a best-of volume for new readers and established aficionados alike.
Arranged chronologically and by genre, the collection highlights the evolution of Rash's craftsmanship and of his major themes within each genre, revealing the rich tapestry of expanding interests transcending genres.
Wilhelm's introduction offers a biographical and critical guide to Rash's work as well as insightful discussion of the writer's most crucial themes and techniques, including his use of traditional and nontraditional poetic and literary forms; of different narrative strategies, story forms, and character voices; and of landscape and historic settings.
Readers can see for themselves in one volume how Rash continuously returns to his deepest concerns for greater and greater effect, concerns that begin with his early poetry and stories and persist into his most recent works.
No one captures the complexities of Appalachia—a rugged, brutal landscape of exquisite beauty—as evocatively and indelibly as author and poet Ron Rash.
Winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, two O Henry prizes, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, Rash brilliantly illuminates the tensions between the traditional and the modern, the old and new south, tenderness and violence, man and nature.
Though the focus is regional, the themes of Rash’s work are universal, striking an emotional chord that resonates deep within each of our lives.
A collection of haunting lyricism that evokes the beauty and hardship of the rural South, by a revered American master of letters—the award-winning, bestselling author of the novels Serena, Something Rich and Strange, and Above the Waterfall.
In this incandescent, profound, and accessible collection, beloved and award-winning poet, novelist, and short-story writer Ron Rash vividly channels the rhythms of life in Appalachia, deftly capturing the panoply of individuals who are its heart and soul—men and women inured to misfortune and hard times yet defined by tremendous fortitude, resilience, and a fierce sense of community.
In precise, supple language that swerves from the stark to the luminous, Rash richly describes the splendor of the natural landscape and poignantly renders the lives of those dependent on its bounty—in cotton mills and tobacco fields, farmlands and forests. The haunting memories and shared histories of these people—their rituals and traditions—animate this land, and are celebrated in Rash’s crystalline, intensely imagined verse.
With an eye for the surprising and vivid detail, Ron Rash powerfully captures the sorrows and exaltations of this wondrous world he knows intimately. Illuminating and indelible, Poems demonstrates his rich talents and confirms his legacy as a standard-bearer for the literature of the American South.
Southword is a literary journal featuring new writing from around the globe. This issue includes the winning short stories of the Seán O'Faoláin International Short Story Competition (judged by Paul McVeigh), the winning poems of the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Competition (judged by Brian Turner), essays by Kim Addonizio and Thomas Lynch, an interview with Yiyun Li, fiction by Ron Rash, and poems by Kim Addonizio, Thomas McCarthy, August Kleinzahler and Audrey Molloy.
Ron Rash has long been a revered presence in the landscape of American letters. A virtuosic novelist, poet, and story writer, he evokes the beauty and brutality of the land, the relentless tension between past and present, and the unquenchable human desire to be a little bit better than circumstances would seem to allow.
In these ten stories, Rash, "a gorgeous, brutal writer" (Richard Price) working at the height of his powers, has created a mesmerizing look at the imperfect world around us, from the severing of ties to the natural world in the relentless hunt for profit to the destruction of body and soul with pills meant to mute our pain.
The Shark's Tooth is a poetic tale of imagination and conservation in which a young girl visiting her grandparents' beach house finds friendship with the ocean's creatures. Sharks' teeth are given to her by her new aquatic friends as gifts, symbolic of her connections to nature and the sea.
As the little girl grows up and moves away to the city, she loses her kinship to the natural world. When she returns to the beach house as an adult, she is convinced that her childhood memories were only acts of make-believe—until she receives a sign that her ocean adventures may have been real after all.
The Shark's Tooth is the first children's book written by New York Times best-selling author Ron Rash. Cecile L. K. Martin's colorful cut-paper illustrations complement the story, and novelist and children's author Mary Alice Monroe provides an engaging afterword on the story's empowering message of creativity and conservation.