Books That Inspire 2008

Rilla Askew

Harpsong, a new novel by Rilla Askew, is certain to make the list of “Books That Inspire.” I read it straight through and was shattered at the conclusion, not only for the tragic fate of the two protagonists but for the sheer beauty of the prose. It not only captures a period in Oklahoma history with heartbreaking sensory detail and suspense, it also creates both the inner world of the lovers Harlan and Sharon as well as the larger universe in which they tried so valiantly to survive. John Steinbeck brought the pathos of the Oklahoma dust bowl to the eyes of the world. Askew has done no less by showing us not the people who left for California's promise, but the heroic folks who stayed.

Rena R Cook
Associate Professor
School of Drama