Book signing for retired SDSU professor


By Jennie Hegge Reporter

Mary Haug, inspired by her time abroad to write a novel, recently visited the South Dakota Art Museum with her newly published book, Daughters of the Grassland. 

The event had a turnout around 80 people for the book signing event on Thursday, Sept. 11. 

“Holding the event at the Art Museum was an unexpected and much appreciated bonus,” Haug said. 

Daughters of the Grassland is a memoir-style book. The author, Haug, lived in Brookings for over 40 years, and said she wanted her first book signing to be held here.

 Haug was a professor in the SDSU English Department for 30 years before her retirement in 2008. She has been writing for the last 10 years, and seven of those 10 years were devoted to getting her book published.  

 “I was inspired to write the book during my time as an exchange professor at Chungnam National University in Daejeon, South Korea.  I began writing emails home about our adventures and travels in Korea.  Over time, those emails began to include reflections on growing on a farm near Reliance, SD,” Haug said. 

Not only did she get her inspiration from that, but also from her writing group who mentored her through the process. The writing group consists of four women that meet twice a month to discuss their writing.

 “In our writing group, we respond to each other’s manuscripts-in-process. These are drafts of memoir (creative nonfiction). But we are also very good friends as well, so we do a lot of chit-chatting when our group meets,” said Christine Stewart, associate professor of English and coordinator of creative writing.

While Stewart was  helpful in giving input on the book during their writing group, she developed a favorite part of the book. 

“My favorite chapter is when she goes to the Korean baths. She imagines her mother would be very shocked, and these scenes are poignant and funny at the same time,” Stewart said.

Pat Reger, a Brookings resident and friend of Haug’s, has a different part of the book he said is his favorite.

“It connected so many memories with the land and my own mother, with experiences with what I’ve had. Plus I enjoyed reading about her experiences in South Korea. She’s an excellent writer. I was really awed by the transition she made by her experiences in South Korea and her experiences in South Dakota,” Reger said. 

While her book book has seen positive response from the community, it’s only natural Hauge has her own favorite parts. 

“The last chapter is my favorite chapter because I write about the elderly Korean women who dive for shellfish off the coast of JeJu Island and compare them to the courage and strength of my mother and my Irish aunts. There scenes in this chapter that I think will resonate with every woman who reads the book,” Haug said.