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University Libraries - News, Events & Exhibits

Thomas Cooper Society Annual Dinner with Guest Ron Rash

Hollings Main, Program Room
Apr 27, 2017 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
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The public is invited to USC Libraries Thomas Cooper Society annual dinner Thursday, April 27 with special guest Ron Rash, internationally-acclaimed author of the PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel Serena, in addition to six other novels including One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, The World Made Straight, Above the Waterfall and The Risen.

Ron Rash

Following the dinner, Rash will receive the Thomas Cooper Medal, which is presented annually in recognition of distinction in the arts and sciences. Past medal recipients include Derek Walcott, Joyce Carol Oates, Pat Conroy, Henry Louis Gates, James Dickey, Ray Bradbury, Elmore Leonard and many others.

Rash has authored four collections of poems and six collections of stories, including Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award, and most recently, Something Rich and Strange.

Rash, who was born in Chester, South Carolina and grew up in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, has also achieved international acclaim as a poet and short story author, receiving the O. Henry Prize twice.

In his essay The Gift of Silence, Rash notes, “When readers ask how I came to be a writer, I usually mention several influences: my parents’ teaching by example the importance of reading; a grandfather who, though illiterate, was a wonderful storyteller; and, as I grew older, an awareness that my region had produced an inordinate number of excellent writers and that I might find a place in that tradition. Nevertheless, I believe what most made me a writer was my early difficulty with language.”

Rash teaches at Western Carolina University.

In addition to the dinner honoring Rash, the USC Libraries Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is hosting an exhibit showcasing a portion of its extensive collection of Rash writings and memorabilia including manuscript drafts of his novels, short stories, poetry collections and books from his personal library that contain handwritten notes. The exhibit also includes works by authors, from Shakespeare to Faulkner, who impacted Rash’s writings. The exhibit is open April 27 through July.

The Thomas Cooper Society annual dinner is open to the public, but tickets are required. It will take place at the USC Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, located at 1322 Greene Street, Columbia, SC, with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.

A selection of Rash’s books will be available for purchase. The Society will have signed bookplates available for all guests.

Tickets are $75 per person. Reservations are required by April 20. Download the reservation form here.

For more information, call 803-777-3142 or email