John Nichols at a UNM booksigning event.
The UNM Department of English hosts distinguished Taos writer John Nichols to deliver the third annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest, on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in George Pearl Hall, room 101. Pearl Hall, the School of Architecture and Planning building, is on the corner of Central and Cornell. The lecture is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow.

A resident of New Mexico since 1969, Nichols is the author of 12 novels and eight works of non-fiction. His most recent novel, On Top of Spoon Mountain, was published by the University of New Mexico Press in October of this year. Nichols has written the "New Mexico Trilogy" of novels — his classic, The Milagro Beanfield War, The Magic Journey, and The Nirvana Blues — as well as a non-fiction trilogy about the Southwest — If Mountains Die, The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn and On the Mesa. Three of Nichols' novels have been adapted into films: The Sterile Cuckoo, for which Liza Minnelli received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress; The Milagro Beanfield War, directed by Robert Redford; and The Wizard of Loneliness.

Nichols writes with a signature humor, a close attention to regional detail, and a keen awareness of the political context that invariably shapes everyday life in New Mexico. "Much of my work has dealt with struggles for human justice, land and water rights issues, the clash between Chicano, Native American and Anglo cultures," Nichols writes. "My stuff is often polemical, usually comic. Laugh and the world laughs with us; weep and we weep alone."

The UNM English Department established the annual lecture series on the literature of the Southwest in 2010 through a gift from renowned fiction writer Rudolfo Anaya and his late wife Patricia Anaya. "The English Department cherishes the fact that Emeritus Professor Rudy Anaya was on our faculty for so many years. A founder of our distinguished Creative Writing Program, he still inspires us with his joyous approach to life, sense of humor, and eloquent articulation of Hispanic culture and the beauties of the Southwest. He has long been an internationally known man of letters, but we take pride in the fact that he began his career in our department," Gail Houston, chair of the department, said. "We feel privileged to have received his generous donation, and we are pleased to honor the distinguished John Nichols for his invaluable contributions as a writer. There is no better venue for celebrating Southwest literature than the University of New Mexico English Department. We look forward to sharing this free event with everyone at UNM and in the community."

The collections of the UNM Center for Southwest Research include the complete papers of both Rudolfo Anaya and John Nichols.

David Dunaway, UNM professor of English and author of Writing the Southwest, said, "We are thrilled to welcome John Nichols to UNM. John Nichols has not only taught at UNM, but his work is currently studied here; and of course he is one of the best-known authors of Northern New Mexico. His has been an unwavering voice for environmental sensitivity, cultural respect, and economic justice in the half-century he has lived in New Mexico. His writing is hilarious while serious; audiences who have never heard him read will be delighted."

The annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest features foundational figures such as Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz (2010) and Las Cruces writer and playwright Denise Chávez (2011). Co-sponsors for the event include the UNM Department of English Language and Literature, the Division of Student Affairs, the Latin American and Iberian Institute, the Honors College, the Institute for American Indian Research (IFAIR), the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies, University Libraries, Center for the Southwest, the Feminist Research Institute, and Department of History.

For more information, contact Kathleen Washburn or call the UNM English Department at (505) 277-6347.

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: