Rilla Askew

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Rilla Askew (born 1951) is an American novelist and short story writer who was born in Poteau, in the Sans Bois Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma, and grew up in the town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance in 1980 and went on to study creative writing at Brooklyn College, where she received her MFA in 1989.[1] Rilla has taught at Syracuse University, Brooklyn College, the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[2] In 2003, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame [3]

Askew was a 2004 fellow at Civiella Ranieri in Umbertide, Italy, and a featured writer at the 2008 World Literature Today and Chinese Literature Conference in Beijing. In 2009, she received an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in Tin House, TriQuarterly, Nimrod, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. Her story "The Killing Blanket" was selected for Prize Stories 1993: The O. Henry Awards.

Askew's first novel The Mercy Seat (1997) was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Dublin IMPAC Prize, was a Boston Globe Notable Book, and received the Oklahoma Book Award and the Western Heritage Award in 1998. In 2002, her second novel Fire in Beulah (2001), about the Tulsa race riot, received the American Book Award and the Myers Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. Askew's third novel, Harpsong (2007), is set in 1930's Oklahoma. Harpsong received the Oklahoma Book Award, the Western Heritage Award, the WILLA Award from Women Writing the West, and the Violet Crown Award from the Writers League of Texas in 2008. Her novel about state immigration laws, "Kind of Kin," was published by Ecco in 2013.

Askew is married to actor Paul Austin, and they divide their time between Oklahoma and the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.


  1. ^ Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers.
  2. ^ University of Central Oklahoma. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-07-18. Retrieved 2014-10-08. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-11-08. Retrieved 2017-03-01. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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