Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tony Hillerman's Murder Mysteries Set on the Navaho Reservation

Humor, it is often said, cannot be translated -- nor understood across cultures.  In his murder mysteries, set on the Navaho Reservation and steeped in Navaho culture, Tony Hillerman often refers to Navaho humor -- a humor more often than not a play on words in the Navaho language and thus untranslatable.  However, yesterday, rereading Hillerman's novel Listening Woman,
Marash Girl laughed out loud as Hillerman related a joke that all his readers could understand. McGinnis, an old white man who runs a trading post on the Navaho Reservation, and hears every bit of gossip there is to be had on the reservation,  a man who, whenever he appears in the novel, is sipping bourbon from a Coca-Cola glass -- comments, "Had a doctor tell me I ought to quit this stuff because it was affecting my eardrums and I told him I liked what I was drinking better'n what I was hearing."

N.B. The first time Marash Girl became aware of Tony Hillerman was many years ago at the library in Northampton, Massachusetts, and it was there that she found his novel Listening Woman . . . Marash GIrl was hooked -- and proceeded to read every book she could find by this writer of murder mysteries, mysteries set on the Navaho Indian Reservation in the southwestern United States.


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