Compelling as a story, this novel explores deep themes that deal with how innocence can overcome evil. It is written in language that reminds the reader of the novelist’s years of publishing poetry. The author beautifully conveys a Southwest Virginia setting she knows thoroughly and develops her characters with an expertise that flows smoothly from start to finish. “In Wayland, Rita Quillen writes of a Depression-era Appalachian community with immense vividness and immense empathy, but like the best novelists, her characters transcend their geographical locale to evoke concerns that touch upon the lives of all people. Whether as poet or as novelist, Quillen is a writer to be revered.”--Ron Rash. “In language as poetic as it is fierce, anchored in the Appalachian mountains of the 1930s, Wayland explains a lost world to us, recreating it, revivifying it--crazy as that sounds. This is a beautiful and moving novel and deserves a wide readership.” --Mark Powell. “In the pages of Wayland, Rita Quillen takes the reader deep into the characters, history, and landscape of her native hills. Quillen is a storyteller of prodigious gifts, one of Appalachian literature's truly authentic voices.”--Amy Greene. Rita Quillen transitioned easily from a working class life to become an impressive student whose Masters thesis was published in book form, to a community college professor who filled multiple Appalachian Literature classes, to a retiree devoted to her life as a writer. For years her car was adorned with a bumper sticker that read, “Minor Regional Poet.” This novel is further proof that she has completely transcended that moniker. She lives in Scott County, Virginia, close to where she has lived her whole life.
Oak Ridge, Tennessee: Iris Press, 2019. 157 pages. Trade paperback.