John Nichols

(* 1940)

Biographical Sketch

John Treadwell Nichols (born Berkeley, CA, USA, July 23, 1940) is an American novelist.

He is the author of the New Mexico Trilogy, a series about the complex relationship between history, race and ethnicity, and land and water rights in the fictional Chamisaville County, New Mexico. The trilogy consists of The Milagro Beanfield War (which was adapted into a movie of the same title directed by Robert Redford), The Magic Journey, and The Nirvana Blues.

Two of his other novels have been made into films. The Wizard of Loneliness was published in 1966 and the film version with Lukas Haas was made in 1988. Another successful movie adaptation was of The Sterile Cuckoo, which was published in 1965 and was filmed by Alan J. Pakula in 1969. He also had an important but uncredited hand – due to a Writers Guild arbitration decision – in the Oscar-winning Best Adapted Screenplay for Constantine Costa-Garvras’s 1982 film, Missing.

Nichols has also written non-fiction, including the trilogy If Mountains Die, The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn and On the Mesa. John Nichols has lived in Taos, New Mexico for many years. He is the subject of a documentary entitled The Milagro Man: The Irrepressible Multicultural Life and Literary Times of John Nichols, which premiered at the 2012 Albuquerque Film Festival.

Read more about John Nichols on Wikipedia.


Major Awards and Honors

New Mexico Governor’s Award
  • 1981



  • The Sterile Cuckoo (1965)
  • The Wizard of Loneliness (1966)
  • The New Mexico Trilogy
    • The Milagro Beanfield War (1974)
    • The Magic Journey (1978)
    • The Nirvana Blues (1981)
  • A Ghost in the Music (1987)
  • American Blood (1987)
  • An Elegy for September (1992)
  • Conjugal Bliss: A Comedy of Marital Arts (1994)
  • The Voice of the Butterfly (2001)
  • The Empanada Brotherhood (2007)
  • On Top of Spoon Mountain (2012)
  • The Annual Big Arsenic Fishing Contest! (2016)
  • Goodbye, Monique (2019)
  • The Taos Memoirs:
    • If Mountains Die (1979)
      – With photographs by William Davis.
    • The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn: A Memoir (1982)
      – Photo essay; photographs by Nichols.
    • On the Mesa (1986)
  • In Praise of Mountain Lions (1984)
    – With Edward Abbey.
  • A Fragile Beauty: John Nichols’ Milagro Country (1987)
    – With photographs by Nichols.
  • The Sky’s the Limit: A Defense of the Earth (1990)
    – With photographs by Nichols.
  • Keep It Simple: A Defense of the Earth (1992)
    – With photographs by Nichols.
  • Dancing on the Stones: Selected Essays (2000)
  • Armageddon and New Mexico: Writing for Fun and Profit in the Poorest State In America (2000)
  • An American Child Supreme: The Education of a Liberation Ecologist (2001)


A Selection of Quotes

The Nirvana Blues

“Each person leaves a legacy – a single, small piece of herself, which makes richer each individual life and the collective life of humanity as a whole.”

The Milagro Beanfield War

“Listen cousin, the way things are supposed to work out, one day the struggles of all you screwed up little underdogs will forge a permanent rainbow that’ll encircle this entire earth, I should live so long.”

A Fragile Beauty

“We are touched by magic wands. For just a fraction of our day life is perfect, and we are absolutely happy and in harmony with the earth. The feeling passes much too quickly. But the memory – and the anticipation of other miracles – sustains us in the battle indefinitely.”

Find more quotes by John Nichols on Goodreads.