We hope you know Wiley Cash -- we’ve been talking about him for years, ever since we first read the galleys of A Land More Kind than Home. Such an incredible debut novel… The promise Wiley made us as readers with that book was fulfilled with his second book, This Dark Road to Mercy, and now again, in a very big way, with his newest, The Last Ballad.
The novel is set in during the Industrial Revolution in the Appalachian Mountains, and is about Ella May, a single mother who works in the cotton mills of Gastonia, NC. She is paid a paltry wage, one that isn’t enough to feed and shelter her children. To save her family and herself, she joins the unions and uses her beautiful signing voice and rousing lyrics to help the labor organizers recruit more strikers. Her story is inspiring, heartbreaking, and emblematic of what so many have already given up to improve life for the underprivileged. It’s hard to imagine someone reading this book without drawing parallels to the struggles that are making the news for many Americans today. Ella May resisted, and she persisted (even though she had been warned). Wiley’s book is based on history, with much of the details of his novel based on fact.
This novel is rich in material for book clubs - between worker’s rights, and the what-woud-you-do kinds of questions that puts the reader in Ella’s situation, and the ways class differences come into play, there’s just so much to talk about. Wiley suspects you might has a few questions for him, so he’s give two book clubs a chance to win a Skype or visit from him during their meeting about The Last Ballad. The sweepstakes closes on Thursday, November 9th, so now’s your last chance to enter! Click through for your chance to chat with Wiley about his novel.
Here’s a bonus: video of Wiley at an event with author Charles Frazier, featuring a folk singer presenting one of Ella May’s strike songs. In Wiley’s words, “Skip through all the part of me blabbering to check out Shannon Whitworth, especially where she sings Ella May's "Mill Mother's Lament" at 33:00 mark.”