Western Carolina University Distinguished Professor Ron Rash has been awarded the 2020 Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature from Mercer University. Rash is a poet, short story writer and novelist, whose writings reflect life in the Southern Appalachians.
The prize will be presented April 18 at 1 p.m. in the Presidents Dining Room of the University Center on the Macon, Georgia campus.
“The Lanier Prize is especially meaningful to me because, as a beginning writer, the work of several previous winners was crucial, especially that of Lee Smith, Wendell Berry, Ernest Gaines and Fred Chappell,” Rash said. “Their writing continues to inspire me, and I am honored to join them as a Lanier Prize winner.”
Rash was born in Chester, South Carolina and serves as John Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies in the English Department at Western Carolina University.
Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction finalist and New York Times bestseller “Serena” and “Above the Waterfall,” in addition to four prizewinning novels, including “The Cove,” “One Foot in Eden,” “Saints at the River” and “The World Made Straight.”
He has also authored four collections of poems and six collections of stories, among them “Burning Bright,” which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and “Chemistry and Other Stories,” which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. He is a two-time recipient of the O. Henry Prize given annually to short stories of exceptional merit.