NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies
Bruce-Trades, Room 301D
Office Hours: TBA
At Berea College since August 2010
- A.A., Sue Bennett College, 1991
- B.A., Eastern Kentucky University, 1993
- M.F.A., Spalding University, 2003
- APS / ENG 140: Appalachian Literature
- ENG 282: Workshop in Creative Writing
- APS 229: Contemporary Issues in Appalachia
Silas House was born and grew up in Lily, Kentucky, but he also spent much of his childhood in nearby Leslie County. He has degrees from Sue Bennett College, Eastern Kentucky University, and Spalding University. House was chosen as one of the ten emerging talents in the South by the Millennial Gathering of Writers at Vanderbilt University.
House’s first novel, Clay’s Quilt, was published in 2001. It appeared briefly on the New York Times Best Seller List and became a success throughout the South. It was a finalist for both the Southeast Booksellers’ Association fiction award and the Appalachian Writers’ Association Book of the Year Award. He followed with A Parchment of Leaves (2003), which became a national bestseller and was nominated for several major awards. The book was a finalist for the Southern Book Critics’ Circle Prize and won the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Chaffin Award for Literature, the Kentucky Novel of the Year Award, and many others.
House’s next book, The Coal Tattoo (2004), was a finalist for the Southern Book Critics’ Circle Prize as well as winning the Appalachian Writers’ Association Book of the Year Award, the Kentucky Novel of the Year Award, and others. House’s work has been championed by such acclaimed writers as Lee Smith and Larry Brown, who were both mentors for House.
In March 2009, House published Something’s Rising with fellow anti-mountaintop removal activist Jason Howard. The book is a series of profiles of various anti-mountaintop removal activists from the region, including musician Jean Ritchie, author Denise Giardina, and activist Judy Bonds. The book was called “revelatory” by esteemed author and oral historian Studs Terkel, in his last blurb. Lee Smith wrote the introduction.
House’s fourth novel, “Eli the Good,” was published in September 2009 to great acclaim. The book emerged as a number one bestseller on the Southern lists and received the first annual Storylines Prize from the New York Public Library system, an award given to a book for use in the ESL and literacy programs of New York City.
House’s writing has appeared in Oxford American, Newsday, Bayou, the Louisville Review, Night Train, Appalachian Heritage, Wind, and other publications. His work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and anthologized in such books as New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2004. He has also written the introductions to Missing Mountains, a study of mountaintop removal; From Walton’s Mountain to Tomorrow, a biography of Earl Hamner, Jr., and Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses, a new edition by HarperCollins.
In 2005, House wrote the play The Hurting Part, which was produced by the University of Kentucky. In 2009 his second play, “Long Time Travelling,” was produced by the Actor’s Guild of Lexington (Kentucky).
House served as a writer-in-residence at Eastern Kentucky University in 2004 and 2005 and at Lincoln Memorial University from 2005 to 2010. At LMU he also directed the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. In 2010 House became the NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. He has served on the fiction faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing since 2005.
In 2010 House was selected as the focus of the Silas House Literary Festival at Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. The same year he was chosen as Appalachian Writer of the Year by Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. For more information, see www.silashouse.net.