Following the tradition of Mari Sandoz and Tillie Olsen, Jonis Agee creates historical stories of harsh life in the Midwest, especially focusing on the desolate sandhills of Western Nebraska. Born in Omaha in 1943, she grew up in Nebraska and Missouri, and attended Central High School. She went on to receive her BA at Iowa University, then her MA and PhD at SUNY Binghamton.

Agee’s novels reflect her time spent in the Midwest, and her novels show her interest in the simple drama that is found there amongst families and between settlers and Native peoples. In a manner similar to John G. Neihardt, she accurately details the customs and historical facts of various Native tribes. As an owner of land in the sandhills, she is intimate with the landscape and has set several of her novels there, including Strange Angels, The Weight of Dreams, and The Bones of Paradise. She visits her properties for “peace and quiet and inspiration.”

Throughout her career she has won several book awards, including a Nebraska Book Award and a Nebraska Arts Council Merit Award. She has written six novels, five collections of short stories, and two books of poetry. She also owns twenty pairs of cowboy boots. She currently teaches creative writing and twentieth-century fiction at UNL.

Several of Agee’s works are available at Bellevue University Library, located in the general collection. All books can be borrowed for 21 days with the option of renewal.


24/7 Librarian