Harper Academic

The Last Ballad

A Novel

by Wiley Cash

On Sale: 10/03/2017

Price: $26.99

The Last Ballad

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The Last Ballad

A Novel

by Wiley Cash

On Sale: 10/03/2017

Format:

Price: $26.99

About the Book

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.

Critical Praise

“Wiley Cash reveals the dignity and humanity of people asking for a fair shot in an unfair world. Fraught with the turmoil of social change, The Last Ballad moves inexorably toward a devastating moment of reckoning. A timely and topical portrait of a community in crisis.” - Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World and Orphan Train

“Cash pulls no punches in this gorgeous, gut-wrenching novel, and that’s entirely as it should be for a story of desperate people. In an era when American workers are besieged as they haven’t been since the Great Depression, I can think of no more relevant novel for our times.” - Ben Fountain, Author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk on The Last Ballad

“Inspired by the events of an actual textile-mill strike in 1929, Cash creates a vivid picture of one woman’s desperation. . . . A heartbreaking and beautifully written look at the real people involved in the labor movement.” - Kirkus Reviews

“It’s impossible not to hear echoes of Steinbeck in Cash’s sprawling, multi-voiced account of a battered, hopeless woman who rises up to become the symbol of a movement… Ella May Wiggins, it seems, sings not only of the forgotten past, but for our time too.” - Chapter 16

“Beautifully and courageously told. Wiley Cash dares give voice to people lost in the margins of history, and he brings to life their inspiring fight for justice with graceful prose, honesty and intensity, and best of all, a wonderful bigness of heart.” - Lydia Peelle, author of The Midnight Cool on The Last Ballad

“This suspenseful, moving novel is a story of struggle and personal sacrifice for the greater good that will resonate with readers of John Steinbeck or Ron Rash.” - Publishers Weekly

“Resonates with pain, love, the struggle of life and the gross injustices of the world. I hated leaving Ella May’s world, reveled in watching her bravery against unspeakable odds and her unending support of racial equality… A riveting story.” - Louisiana Book News

“With his vibrant imagination, vigorous research, and his architectural skill in structuring this novel, Wiley Cash has lifted the events of the past into the present and immortalized a time that holds valuable lessons for our country today.” - Charlotte Observer

 “Wiley Cash’s third novel is a sweeping, old-fashioned saga with an inspirational but ill-fated heroine at its center… Ella May is such a rich, sympathetic character… Powerful and moving, exploring complex historical issues that are still with us today.” - BookPage.com

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062313119
  • ISBN 10: 0062313118
  • Imprint: William Morrow
  • On Sale: 10/03/2017
  • Trimsize: 6.000 in (w) x 9.000 in (h) x 1.210 in (d)
  • Pages: 384
  • List Price: $26.99
  • BISAC1: FICTION / Literary
  • BISAC2: FICTION / Historical
  • BISAC3: FICTION / Small Town & Rural