The Final Six-Pack
The Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma Book for 2007

Fire in Beulah
by Rilla Askew
Penguin Books

pp. 384
ISBN 0142000248

"On the last morning in September, Althea awakened before daylight from a dream of such grief and loss that before she'd come fully awake she knew she'd been weeping."

As modern day Oklahoma confronts the tragedy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, a native daughter lends her voice. Rilla Askew’s novel is the story of Althea Whiteside, an oil wildcatter’s high-strung white wife, and her enigmatic black maid, Graceful. They share a complex connection during the tense days of the Oklahoma oil rush. Their juxtaposing stories unfold as tensions mount to a violent climax. Tim Madigan’s non-fiction work on the riot, The Burning, was part of the first Oklahoma Literary Six-Pack. Askew is a two-time Oklahoma Book Award winner. Fire in Beulah received the 2002 American Book Award.

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"Askew's tinderbox of a novel is suffused with an almost unbearable tension… a moving, troubling story."
The Boston Globe

"Compelling, intense and frightening… recalls and recreates a devastating if largely forgotten historical event."
Chicago Tribune

"A haunting, engrossing portrait of two families—one white, one black—whose lives are woven together and then shattered… Askew's final hundred pages are a cinematic, apocalyptic denouement, as all the characters are swept up in a terrible racial tidal wave."
The Washington Post

"Superb… with great passion and conviction, Askew has turned the story of the riot into a work of compelling fiction that is nevertheless true to the basic facts of an American tragedy."
The Baltimore Sun

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About the Author

Rilla Askew is the author of Strange Business, a collection of stories, and The Mercy Seat, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award and winner of the Western Heritage Award. Her latest novel, Harpsong, will be released by the University of Oklahoma Press in April, 2007. Rilla is a two-time Oklahoma Book Award winner. She divides her time between the San Bois Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma and upstate New York.


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