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Oklahoma novelist offers view of state different from Steinbeck



Many may consider "The Grapes of Wrath" the quintessential novel about Oklahoma. Novelist Rilla Askew does not.

"People think they know the story of Oklahoma during the Thirties because Steinbeck's book has become iconic," said Askew. "The image of Oklahoma is of the Joads heading west on the Mother Road. The state gets summed up as the Okies, the Dust Bowl. Those are mythic images grounded in truth, but they are not the whole truth."

Her new novel, "Harpsong," tells the stories of those who stayed in the state during the Depression rather than migrating.

"'Harpsong' recaptures our history in a positive and lyrical way," said Teresa Miller, executive director of The Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at Oklahoma State University "? Tulsa. "Steinbeck talked about the Oklahoma of lost dreams; Rilla writes about the Oklahoma of found dreams."

Askew's novel is the final book in a thematic trilogy, following 1997's "The Mercy Seat," set in Indian Territory, and 2001's "Fire in Beulah," which takes place during the 1921 Tulsa race riot.

"Throughout the books, she addresses Oklahoma with a fresh, honest perspective, avoiding clich

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