Education & Literature

    John Nichols, 'The Sterile Cuckoo' writer, dies at 83

    The Hawk
    December2/ 2023
    Last Updated:

    Remembering John Nichols: Pioneering Novelist, Social Justice Advocate, and the Creative Mind Behind 'The Milagro Beanfield War' and 'The Sterile Cuckoo.

    John Nichols

    Taos [New Mexico]: John Nichols died on Wednesday in Taos, New Mexico. He was 83, Deadline reported.
    He wrote more than a dozen books, including 'The Milagro Beanfield War' and 'The Sterile Cuckoo,' both of which were adapted into films by renowned directors.

    'The Milagro Beanfield War' was co-written by Nichols, whose writings frequently dealt with issues of small-town New Mexico and social injustice.
    It became a 1988 film produced and directed by Robert Redford, focusing on a conflict between largely Latino farmers and local politicians and real estate developers.

    The jazzy score by Dave Grusin won an Oscar for the film, which starred Ruben Blades, Richard Bradford, and Sonia Braga.
    Alan J. Pakula adapted Nichols' breakthrough novel 'The Sterile Cuckoo' into a film four years later. It starred Liza Minnelli as Pookie, a quirky but honest woman who falls in love with a young man (Wendell Burton) right before he leaves for college.

    According to Deadline, Nichols' novels include his sophomore attempt 'The Wizard of Loneliness,' which was adapted into a 1988 film director Jenny Bowen starring Lukas Haas and Lea Thompson. 'The Magic Journey' and 'The Nirvana Blues,' combined with 'The Milagro Beanfield War,' comprised his "New Mexico trilogy."
    Nichols has written more than a half-dozen nonfiction books, including 'I Got Mine: Confessions of a Midlist Writer,' which was published last year.
    He was also a social justice campaigner and the subject of Kurt Jacobsen's 2012 feature documentary 'The Milagro Man: The Irrepressible Multicultural Life and Literary Times of John Nichols.' The film, which is based on a long interview with the author, provides an intimate account of his creative literary process.