October 27th, 2008

moss on stones

A sad day for fiction

Today is a sad day for lovers of mystery novels. Tony Hillerman died at the age of 83 yesterday. His Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee novels, set in modern-day Navajo culture, are wonderful excursions into a world that is in its own way, as alien to my East Coast suburban lifestyle as anything by a speculative fiction author. The characters are true to their backgrounds, and Hillerman obviously empathised with Navajo efforts to survive in the modern world while maintaining a traditional way of life.

The article gives this quote from Hillerman: "I want Americans to stop thinking of Navajos as primitive persons, to understand that they are sophisticated and complicated." The Navajo seem to have appreciated his efforts as their Tribal Council awarded him a Special Friend of the Dineh award.

His daughter describes him as a born storyteller. He kept working even as age began to rob him of sight and hearing, and rheumatoid arthritis crippled his hands.

Sadly, if you have read Hillerman's latest book, you have read his last book.

freehit counter