Tony Hillerman (1925–2008), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident since 1963, was the author of 29 books, including the popular 17-mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children's books, and nonfiction works. He had received every major honor for mystery fiction; awards ranging from the Navajo Tribal Council's commendation to France 's esteemed Grand prix de litterature policiere. Western Writers of America honored him with the Wister Award for Lifetime achievement in 2008. He served as president of the prestigious Mystery Writers of America, and was honored with that group's Edgar Award and as one of mystery fiction's Grand Masters. In 2001, his memoir, Seldom Disappointed, won both the Anthony and Agatha Awards for best nonfiction.
Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.
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In 2002, Tony Hillerman took a few moments to answer some of our questions about books and life.
What was the book that most influenced your life -- and why?
At risk of sounding old fashioned I have to say it would the Bible -- most notably the psalms and those few short gospels in which Jesus taught us how to be happy.
What are your ten favorite books?
Who are your favorite writers?
- The Earl of Louisiana by A. J. Liebling, in which this New Yorker cynic examines Earl Long's campaign for re-election and provides
an American classic.
- Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion, as a reminder of what a
really good prose writer can do with the essay.
- The Book of the Hopi, in which the late Frank Waters informed the
literate world on the fascinating culture of a fascinating people.
- The Way to Rainy Mountain, N. Scott Momaday's retelling of his
grandmother's memories of the life and death of the Kiowa people -- one of the classics of American literature.
- Bartlett's Familiar Quotations -- an endless source of pre-nap reading and
a reminder of how much can be said in a modest number of words.
- The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton -- an agnostic young
intellectual's account of his climb toward faith in God.
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carré, fiction's master of
- John Brown's Body, by Stephen Vincent Benet, who made sad poetic music
of our Civil War.
- The Cross of Iron, by Willi Heinrich, a German soldier's view of the
tragedy of war.
- The Dandelion Vote, by Charlie Langdon, the best example I've found of
the truth and beauty to which poetry can soar when it escapes from the
shackles of the academic critics.
In my case most of those listed above. Since I am still in the throes of trying to learn, I tend to go back to the technicians and have just re-read some early Hemingway (Big, Two-Hearted River), Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep), and Graham Greene (Our Man in Havana). I'm also very fond of Stephen Ambrose.
What are you working on now?
Currently I am working on a "State of the States" essay for The Nation,
and struggling with plot problems in my next book, which I am calling
The Sinister Pig. It moves Bernadette Manuelito from the Navajo
Tribal Police to the Shadow Wolves unit of the U.S. Customs border patrol and entangles her and Sgt. Jim Chee in a new sort of crime.
What else do you want your readers to know?
Likes and dislikes, biases and prejudices: I dislike efforts to
Balkanize America by hyphenating our population into ethnic groups. I
dislike our government's efforts to persuade us we are "Terrorized,"
by September 11. The people I talk to are shocked, angry, and
uneasy about the incompetence demonstrated by the CIA, FBI, etc. The
terrorists win only if they spook us into letting our terrorized
government reduce our constitutional rights. Hobbies? I love to relive
the memories of when I was spry enough to fish the little trout
streams. Otherwise, I like to write and play poker.
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|Tony Hillerman Home
|The Blessing Way, 1970|
|The Fly on the Wall, 1971|
|Boy Who Made Dragonfly: A Zuni Myth, 1972|
|The Great Taos Bank Robbery: And Other True Stories of the Southwest, 1973|
|Dance Hall of the Dead, 1974|
|Indian Country: America's Sacred Land, 1977|
|Listening Woman, 1978|
|People of Darkness, 1980|
|The Dark Wind, 1982|
|The Ghostway, 1984|
|Spell of New Mexico, 1984|
|Thief of Time, 1985|
|Tony Hillerman's Indian Country Map and Guide, Vol. 1, 1987|
|Talking God, 1988|
|Coyote Waits, 1990|
|Hillerman Country: A Journey Through the Southwest with Tony Hillerman, 1991|
|New Mexico, Rio Grande, and Other Essays, 1992|
|Sacred Clowns, 1993|
|Finding Moon, 1995|
|The Fallen Man, 1996|
|The First Eagle, 1998|
|Hunting Badger, 1999|
|Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir, 2001|
|The Wailing Wind, 2002|
|The Sinister Pig, 2003|
|Kilroy Was There: A GI's War in Photographs, 2004|
|Skeleton Man, 2004|
|The Shape Shifter, 2006|