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ABOUT THE LAST BALLAD
The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman's struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice, with the emotional power of Ron Rash's Serena, Dennis Lehane's The Given Day, and the unforgettable films Norma Rae and Silkwood.
Twelve times a week, twenty-eight-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. 2 in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The insular community considers the mill's owners--the newly arrived Goldberg brothers--white but not American and expects them to pay Ella May and other workers less because they toil alongside African Americans like Violet, Ella May's best friend. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May a paltry nine dollars for seventy-two hours of work each week, it's the only opportunity she has. Her no-good husband, John, has run off again, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find.
When the union leaflets begin circulating, Ella May has a taste of hope, a yearning for the better life the organizers promise. But the mill owners, backed by other nefarious forces, claim the union is nothing but a front for the Bolshevik menace sweeping across Europe. To maintain their control, the owners will use every means in their power, including bloodshed, to prevent workers from banding together. On the night of the county's biggest rally, Ella May, weighing the costs of her choice, makes up her mind to join the movement--a decision that will have lasting consequences for her children, her friends, her town--indeed all that she loves.
Seventy-five years later, Ella May's daughter Lilly, now an elderly woman, tells her nephew about his grandmother and the events that transformed their family. Illuminating the most painful corners of their history, she reveals, for the first time, the tragedy that befell Ella May after that fateful union meeting in 1929.
Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America--and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash's place among our nation's finest writers.
ABOUT WILEY CASH
Wiley Cash is The New York Times best-selling author of A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME and THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, which are both available from William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers.
A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list in hardcover, paperback, and e-book. The New York Times also named it an Editor's Choice and a Notable Book of 2012. The novel was included on best of 2012 lists by Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Books-a-Million, and many others. A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME won the Southern Independent Bookseller Ailliances' Book Award for Fiction of the Year and the John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award from the UK's Crime Writers' Association, and it was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize and the American Booksellers' Association's Debut Fiction Prize. Wiley's second novel, THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, was a national bestseller, an Indie Next Pick, a SIBA Okra Pick, an O Magazine Top Ten Title, a LibraryReads February Selection, and an Amazon Book of the Month. It has been optioned for film.
Wiley holds a B.A. in Literature from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He has received grants and fellowships from the Asheville Area Arts Council, the Thomas Wolfe Society, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. His stories have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Roanoke Review and The Carolina Quarterly, and his essays on Southern literature have appeared in American Literary Realism, The South Carolina Review, and other publications.
Wiley is writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. A native of North Carolina, he lives in Wilmington, NC with his wife and their two young daughters.
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