Set during the tense days of the Oklahoma oil rush, Rilla Askew's Fire in Beulah is a mesmerizing story that centers on the complex relationship between Althea Whiteside, an oil wildcatter's high-strung wife, and Graceful, her enigmatic black maid. Their juxtaposing stories—and those of others close to them—unfold against a volatile backdrop of oil-boom opulence, fear, hatred, lynchings that climax in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, when whites burned the city's properous black community. Askew's award-winning first novel, The Mercy Seat, was praised for its astute diepiction of family bonds and the beauty of American landscape. Now she explores the American race story with the same perception.
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