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The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

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This novel won the Southern Book Award in Literary Fiction for 2017 and was named a Best Book of 2017 by both the American Library Association and the Chicago Public Library.  Cash’s debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, was a New York Times best-seller. This, his third novel, The Last Ballad, centers on the life and murder of Ella May Wiggins (1900-1929) a ballad singer from the Smoky Mountains who worked at the Loray Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina, and lived in a predominantly African-American neighborhood called Stumptown. Two of her seven children died of malnutrition, and she became active in the National Textile Workers Union, where she was an advocate for equality for women and African-Americans. She composed and sang ballads to tell the stories of union struggles.  On September 14, 1929, she was shot to death by company men. She was pregnant at the time she was shot, and her children ranged in age from eleven years to one year old. Wiley Cash was actually born and raised in Gastonia, and has lived in West Virginia and Western North Carolina. He now lives in Wilmington, North Carolina. “A powerful book that speaks to contemporary concerns through historical injustice… Cash vividly blends the archival with the imaginative… With care and steadiness, (Cash) has pulled from the wreckage of the past a lost moment of Southern progressivism. - New York Times Book Review. A heartbreaking and beautifully written look at the real people involved in the labor movement.” - Kirkus Reviews. “Beautifully and evocatively written, The Last Ballad should take a place on the honor roll of Southern fiction that will stand the test of time… Cash deftly builds the suspense and tension about what will happen, and why and when… One powerful and haunting story.” Greensboro News & Record. “Cash pulls no punches in this gorgeous, gut-wrenching novel, and that’s entirely as it should be for a story of desperate people. In an era when American workers are besieged as they haven’t been since the Great Depression, I can think of no more relevant novel for our times.” - Ben Fountain

New York, New York: William Morrow/HarperCollins, a 2018 paperback reprint of a 2017 release. 378 pages with an 18-pages of “Insights, Interviews & More.” Trade paperback