Best-Selling Author Joins AU’s River Teeth

Best-Selling Author Joins AU’s River Teeth

4/28/14 ASHLAND, Ohio – Best-selling literary author Cheryl Strayed (Wild, Torch, Tiny Beautiful Things) has joined the team of Ashland University’s River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, which this week signed a five-year book contract with University of New Mexico Press that extends and strengthens the series.

Under terms of the new arrangement, Strayed will choose the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prizewinner each year from a list of five finalists selected by Joe Mackall, professor of English, and Dan Lehman, trustees’ distinguished professor of English. Sarah M. Wells, administrative director of Ashland’s MFA Program and managing editor of River Teeth, coordinates the prize series, which so far has published 12 well-reviewed books and draws at least 150 full-manuscript entries each year.

Strayed and the River Teeth editors first discussed the possibility of her serving as final judge when she visited Ashland University last summer as a featured writer for the Ashland MFA intensives. Strayed was also the guest editor for Best American Essays 2013, which picked two River Teeth essays among the 25 in the book—tying Paris Review for the most winners of any journal in America. One River Teeth essay was written by an Ashland MFA faculty member and the other by an Ashland MFA alumnus.

“When we met Cheryl Strayed at the Ashland intensives, it was pretty easy to tell that we value the same sort of fire in the writing we love,” Lehman said. “We felt like soul mates. From there we decided to ask if she would ever want to be our River Teeth final judge. And she agreed.”

In joining the River Teeth team, Strayed has promised vigorous support of the River Teeth prize series with the target to attract even higher-quality entries. “I’ll promote the heck out of it,” she said.

The University of New Mexico Press, eager to enhance its already strong catalog and reputation in literary nonfiction, has joined the team as the new publishing partner -- signing a five-year automatically renewing contract for annual prizewinning books with Mackall, Lehman and Wells this past week.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity to work with all of you to bring out the River Teeth prize,” said Elise M. McHugh, senior acquisitions editor of University of New Mexico Press. “We are thrilled.”

The 12 previous winners of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize are found at this link:

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild was the first selection of the Oprah Book Club 2.0 and was on the New York Times best-seller list for months. A film version of the book, starring Reese Witherspoon, is underway.

Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###

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