In the Valley: Stories and a Novella Based on Serena by Ron Rash
Winner of the 2020 Thomas Robinson Prize for Southern Literature
"Mesmerizing...He's one of the best living American writers."
—Janet Maslin, New York Times Book Review
"The power of Rash’s stories lies in [the] small moments of connection amid all the noise of rupture and heartbreak. Rash writes with a direct precision that puts the reader at ease. Here is a storyteller who not only knows his characters, but knows all the details around them a well.”
—Rion Amilcar Scott, New York Times Book Review
“Revelatory...In simple but eloquent prose, Rash describes the vulnerabilities, fears, and desires of his characters and shows how often they unite persons from vastly different walks of life and social strata. The skillful craftsmanship of these tales and their subtle but powerful climaxes make for profoundly moving reading.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Ron Rash has long been a revered presence in the landscape of American letters. A virtuosic novelist, poet, and story writer, he evokes the beauty and brutality of the land, the relentless tension between past and present, and the unquenchable human desire to be a little bit better than circumstances would seem to allow (to paraphrase Faulkner).
In these ten stories, Rash spins a haunting allegory of the times we live in—rampant capitalism, the severing of ties to the natural world in the relentless hunt for profit, the destruction of body and soul with pills meant to mute our pain—and yet within this world he illuminates acts of extraordinary decency and heroism. Two of the stories have already been singled out for accolades: "Baptism" was chosen by Roxane Gay for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories 2018, and "Neighbors" was selected by Jonathan Lethem for The Best American Mystery Stories 2019. And in revisiting Serena Pemberton, Rash updates his bestselling parable of greed run amok as his deliciously vindictive heroine returns to the North Carolina wilderness she left scarred and desecrated to make one final effort to kill the child that threatens all she has accomplished.
"A gorgeous, brutal writer" (Richard Price) working at the height of his powers, Ron Rash has created another mesmerizing look at the imperfect world around us.
Ron Rash is the author of the PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, in addition to the critically acclaimed novels The Risen, Above the Waterfall, The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award; Nothing Gold Can Stay, a New York Times bestseller; and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Twice the recipient of the O. Henry Prize and winner of the 2019 Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature, he is the Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University and lives in Clemson, SC.