Presenter of the National Book Awards

The Book That Changed My Life

Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman was honored as a 1980 National Book Award Finalist for Myster (Paperback) for Listening Woman.

I'd say that the book that had the most impact on my life was one of Arthur Upfield's mystery novels set in the vast empty outback country of Australia-probably The Will of the Tribe, but possibly The Pointed Bone, or Death of a Lake. I'm not sure because I'm going back to about 1938, and I have since read them all.

The best of Upfield's novels featured an Australian police inspector named Napoleon Bonaparte, who was half English and half Australian aborigine and whose best plots were heavily involved with the "abo" religion and culture and the vast Outback landscape. They fascinated me as a teenager. When the first of my Navajo Tribal Police books was published a Boston Globe reviewer compared it to an Upfield book. I'd long since forgotten the source of the images of Australia and its original people that filled my memory but I went to the library, and there they were in Upfield's dusty books.

Tony Hillerman