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Tony Hillerman’s Groundbreaking Work Explored in First Major Biography of the Mystery Writer
“Skillfully written, Hillerman’s fans will want to give this a look.”—Publishers Weekly
“The biography, like Hillerman’s fiction, is deeply researched, lovingly detailed and eminently readable. —Albuquerque Journal
“This first major biography of iconic Western mystery novelist Tony Hillerman is substantial, engrossing and often surprising.”—Roundup Magazine, Western Writers of America
TONY HILLERMAN: A Life (University of Oklahoma Press hardcover | Recorded Books audiobook | October 14, 2021) by James McGrath Morris details for the first time how the author of eighteen spellbinding detective novels simultaneously transformed a traditional genre and unlocked the mysteries of the Navajo culture to an audience of millions. His best- selling novels added Navajo Tribal Police detectives Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee to the pantheon of American fictional detectives.
Morris offers a balanced portrait of Hillerman’s personal and professional life and provides a timely appreciation of his work. In intimate detail, Morris captures the author’s early years in Depression-era Oklahoma; his near-death experience in World War II; his sixty-year marriage to Marie; his family life, including six children, five of them adopted; his work in the trenches of journalism; his affliction with PTSD and its connection to his enchantment with Navajo spirituality; and his ascension as one of America’s best-known authors of mysteries. Further, Morris uncovers the almost accidental invention of Hillerman’s iconic detective Joe Leaphorn and the circumstances that led to the addition of Jim Chee as his partner.
Hillerman’s novels were not without controversy. Morris examines the charges of cultural appropriation leveled at the author toward the end of his life. Yet, for many readers, including many Native Americans, Hillerman deserves critical acclaim for his knowledgeable and sensitive portrayal of Diné (Navajo) history, culture, and identity.
At the time of Hillerman’s death, more than 20 million copies of his books were in print. A new television show, Dark Winds, produced by AMC Networks and Dark Winds Productions LLC, is currently in production. The pilot will be directed by Chris Eyre and executive producers include Robert Redford and George R.R. Martin.
In weaving together all the elements of the author’s life, Morris drew on the untapped collection of the author’s papers, extensive archival research, interviews with friends, colleagues, and family, as well as travel in the Navajo Nation. Filled with never-before-told anecdotes and fresh insights, Tony Hillerman will thrill the author’s fans and awaken new interest in his life and literary legacy.
ABOUT THE BIOGRAPHER
James McGrath Morris is an award-winning and New York Times best-selling author. His books include The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Pasos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War; Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press; and Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power. He is the former president of Biographers International Organization, of which he was among the original founders. In 2019, he received the BIO Award, which is given to a writer who has made a major contribution to the advancement of the art and craft of biography. Previous winners, among others, include: Jean Strouse, Robert Caro, Arnold Rampersad, Ron Chernow, Stacy Schiff, Taylor Branch, and Candice Millard. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
For further information and review copy requests, or to schedule an interview with James McGrath Morris, please contact Jennifer Richards at Over the River Public Relations: Jen@otrpr.com, 201-242-9637.
TONY HILLERMAN: A Lifeby James McGrath Morris
University of Oklahoma Press Hardcover | October 14, 2021 | Biography, Literary Figures Hardcover | $29.95 | ISBN: 978-0-8061-7598-0 | 352 pages with 23 b&w illustrations
E-Pub | 978-0-8061-7865-3
Recorded Books Audiobook | Narrated by George Guidall | October 2021 | $24.49 | ASIN: B09GBLHB45 | 10 hours, 50 minutes