Rilla Askew

Fiction Writer, Creative Nonfiction Writer

Norman, OK 73072

Author's Bio

Rilla Askew received a 2009 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in a variety of journals, and her story "The Killing Blanket" was selected for Prize Stories 1993: The O. Henry Awards. Askew's first novel, THE MERCY SEAT, 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. FIRE IN BEULAH, her acclaimed novel about the Tulsa Race Massacre, received the American Book Award and the Myers Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. She was a 2004 fellow at Civiella Ranieri in Umbertide, Italy, and in 2008 her novel 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. Askew received the 2011 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Her novel KIND OF KIN deals with state immigration laws and was a finalist for the Western Spur Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, and was long-listed for the Dublin IMPAC Prize. Her most recent book is a collection of creative nonfiction MOST AMERICAN: Notes From A Wounded Place. Kirkus Reviews calls Most American "An eloquently thoughtful memoir in essays." In nine linked works of creative nonfiction, Askew spotlights the complex history of her home state. From the Trail of Tears to the Tulsa Race Massacre to the Murrah Federal Building bombing, Oklahoma appears as a microcosm of our national saga. Yet no matter our location, Askew argues, we must own the whole truth of our history if the wounds of division that separate us are ever to heal.

Publications & Prizes

Creative Nonfiction

Voices from the Heartland II (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019)
Most American: Notes From a Wounded Place (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017)
Journals: ,


3 Minutes or Less: Life Lessons from America's Greatest Writers (Bloomsbury USA, 2000)
Aniyunwiya: an Anthology of Contemporary Cherokee Prose (Greenfield Review Press, 1995)
Prize Stories 1993: O. Henry Awards (Doubleday, 1993)
Kind of Kin (Ecco Press, 2013)
Harpsong (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007)
Fire in Beulah (Viking/Penguin, 2001)
The Mercy Seat (Viking, 1997)
Strange Business (Viking/Penguin, 1992)
American Letters & Commentary
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Fish Drum
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Puerto del Sol
Prizes won: 

Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, Oklahoma Center for the Book 2011

Arts and Letters Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters 2009

Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame 2004

Oklahoma Book Award, 1993, 1999, 2008

Western Heritage Award 1998, 2008

American Book Award 2002 

More Information

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Last update: Oct 23, 2019