The dean of Indian Country mysteries, known for his cultural sensitivity in telling the world about earthen hogans, evil skinwalkers and other elements of Navajo tradition, master novelist Tony Hillerman began writing about Navajo tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee in the seventies. When I visited his Albuquerque home for an interview in 2004, the famed author admitted to still shopping at Wal-Mart and not having a smidge of Indian blood in him. Tips for how to write a bestseller? He said that Elmore Leonard advised him, “Leave out the stuff the reader skips.”

Author of the quintessential NewMexico novel, 1972’s BlessMe, Ultima, RudolfoAnaya was considered by many to be the “godfather” of Chicano literature. With his story about a young boy learning about herbs and magic in a small village, the longtime Burqueño brought curanderas, NewMexican Spanish and the fictional detective Sonny Baca into the national lexicon. He often wrote of the search for identity in Latino culture, winning numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts, along the way.

Northern NewMexico’s natural elements, cultural clashes and idiosyncratic individuals have been memorably depicted by longtime Taoseño John Nichols in books such as 1974’s TheMilagro Beanfield War (made into a film by Robert Redford) and the much later The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn, in which he confides, “I love the chilly winds and dying leaves and the first snow

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Santa Fe New Mexican