Bethany Professor Releases First Novel

“A Land More Kind than Home,” a first novel written by R. Wiley Cash Jr., assistant professor of English at Bethany College, is being released this month.

The prestigious publisher, HarperCollins, is publishing the new novel.

The official book-launching event will take place in Bethany’s Renner Art Gallery at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 21. A portion of the book sales that day will be given to the Brooke County Public Library.

Cash will be embarking upon an extensive book tour to promote his latest work. The author will hold a book-signing event at Words and Music bookstore in Wheeling, beginning at noon Saturday, May 5. He also will present a Lunch With Books program at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling at noon Tuesday, May 29.

“A Land More Kind than Home” has already been reviewed by several publications, both in the United States and abroad. A review by Christopher Fowler in the London Financial Times called the novel “an electrifying tale of hard-fought lives and fanatical old-time religion set in the North Carolina mountains.”

A review in the Library Journal opined that Cash’s novel is “as lyrical, beautiful and uncomplicated as the classic ballads of Appalachia.”

In the first full-length review of “A Land More Kind Than Home,” Publishers Weekly stated, “Cash’s debut novel is a chilling descent into the world of religious frenzy in small town North Carolina … The distinctive and authentic voices of the characters help Cash draw a moving portrait of smalltown life and the power of belief.”

The Publishers Weekly reviewer opined that “the book is compelling, with an elegant structure and a keen eye for detail, matched with compassionate attention to character.”

Cash, a native of North Carolina, teaches fiction writing and American literature at Bethany College. He has stated that his home region of western North Carolina figures prominently in his fiction. His stories have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Roanoke Review and the Carolina Quarterly.

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Fans of music diva Lady Gaga were drawn to her appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s televised special that aired earlier this month on Winfrey’s OWN channel. Area fans and relatives weree particularly intrigued because the TV special featured the first interview given by Lady Gaga’s mother, Cynthia Bissett Germanotta, who grew up in Marshall County and graduated from John Marshall High School in 1972.

Lady Gaga’s proud maternal grandparents are Paul and Ronnie Bissett of Glen Dale. She has several other relatives in the area.

The two-hour TV special began at Harvard University, where Lady Gaga and her mother launched their new Born This Way Foundation. Part of Lady Gaga’s speech to the Harvard audience and a portion of her question-and-answer session with Winfrey were shown. The segment opened with Lady Gaga and her mother, the West Virginia native, waiting backstage at Harvard; there they were greeted by Winfrey and another West Virginia native, Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prominent Harvard professor, African-American history scholar and author.

Winfrey’s lengthy interview with Lady Gaga and her mother was shot in the Germanotta family’s spacious New York City apartment, where the internationally famous singer grew up.

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Happy Easter, readers! May this season of resurrection and rebirth bring peace, happiness and tranquility to your lives, with the hope and promise of meeting new challenges and improving our world.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: