CoastLine: Wiley Cash On The Marrow Of Tradition

Mar 22, 2019

“Sins, like chickens, come home to roost.  The South paid a fearful price for the wrong of negro slavery; in some form or other it will doubtless reap the fruits of this later iniquity…” 

Those are the words of Charles Chesnutt, a highly-regarded 19th and 20th century American writer, stenographer, and political activist -- born in Ohio and raised in North Carolina.  Chesnutt’s parents were free African-American people – his father the child of a wealthy white landowner and black mother.  Chesnutt himself could easily have passed for white.  He chose not to. 

Not long after the only recorded coup d’etat on American soil in Wilmington on November 10, 1898, Charles Chesnutt published a work of historical fiction exploring the coup and what led up to it.  His novel, The Marrow of Tradition, landed on a critical audience in 1901.  Chesnutt published only more novel in his lifetime. 

Wiley Cash is a white, 21st century New York Times bestselling author probably best known for his novels The Last Ballad, A Land More Kind than Home, and This Dark Road to Mercy.  He is the founder of the Open Canon Book Club and is co-founder of the Land More Kind Appalachian Artists Residency.  He serves as the writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the Mountainview Low-Residency MFA.  He lives in Wilmington with his wife and two daughters – where he also serves on WHQR’s Board of Directors.  And he has written the introduction to Chesnutt’s book which is newly re-printed by Belt Publishing.