Sherman Alexie: Wikis


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Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie at the BookExpo Conference in New York City in 2007.
Born Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr.
October 7, 1966 (1966-10-07) (age 43)
Wellpinit, Washington, U.S.
Occupation Poet, Short-Story Writer, Novelist, Screenwriter, Filmmaker
Nationality Spokane/Coeur d'Alene/American
Genres Native American literature, Humor, Documentary fiction
Literary movement Indigenous Nationalism
Notable work(s) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Smoke Signals (film)
Notable award(s) American Book Award, National Book Award, PEN/Hemingway

Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr. (born October 7, 1966) is an American writer, poet, filmmaker, and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a Native American. Two of Alexie's best known works are The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1994), a book of short stories and Smoke Signals, a film. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, an autobiographical young adult novel, was his first major commercial success. He lives in Seattle, Washington.[1]



Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, was born hydrocephalic (or with Water on the Brain) in October 1966, on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. Despite his condition, he had no apparent retardation, though he suffered seizures and other effects throughout his childhood. Alexie made the conscious decision to leave his reservation and attend Reardan High School, where he knew he would receive a better education.[2]

In 1985, Alexie enrolled at Gonzaga University on a scholarship. In 1987, he transferred to Washington State University (WSU), where he fell under the influence of Alex Kuo. Kuo inspired Alexie to write poetry, and soon after graduating, Alexie published his first collection of poems, The Business of Fancy Dancing, through Hanging Loose Press.[3]

Alexie is married to Diane Tomhave, who is of Hidatsa, Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi heritage. They live in Seattle with their two sons.[4]


Alexie is also noted for his love of basketball, both as an audience member and a player. He is a loyal and enthusiastic supporter of the now relocated Seattle SuperSonics. His writings on the sport are frequently cited by notable basketball writers, such as ESPN's Henry Abbott.

Prior to the SuperSonics' relocation, the City of Seattle filed a lawsuit against the team's ownership group headed by businessman Clayton Bennett in an attempt to force the team to play out the remainder of its lease (which was to expire in 2010) in Seattle's KeyArena. Alexie testified in favor of the city, stressing the importance of the Sonics to Seattle's culture and community, as well as to individual fans - an experience that he would later describe as the "most terrifying and stressful public speaking gig I've ever had to endure."[5] However, the City of Seattle settled with the ownership group, permitting the team to break its lease and move to Oklahoma City for the following season, in exchange for a multi-million dollar cash settlement. Despite the personal and communal loss, Alexie retains his love for the game, and continues to follow pro ball passionately.


Alexie's stories have been included in several prestigious short story anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories 2004, edited by Lorrie Moore; and Pushcart Prize XXIX of the Small Presses. Additionally, a number of his pieces have been published in various literary magazines and journals, as well as online publications. His website,, contains more information than is readily available in this list.


  • On The Amtrak from Boston to New York City (1990)
  • The Business of Fancydancing (1991)
  • I Would Steal Horses (1992)
  • Old Shirts and New Skins (1993)
  • Postcards to Columbus (1993)
  • First Indian on the Moon (1993)
  • Seven Mourning Songs For the Cedar Flute I Have Yet to Learn to Play (1993)
  • Water Flowing Home (1995)
  • The Summer of Black Widows (1996)
  • The Man Who Loves Salmon (1998)
  • One Stick Song (2000)
  • Dangerous Astronomy (2005)
  • Face (2009), Hanging Loose Press (April 15, 2009) hardcover, 160 pages, ISBN-10: 1931236712 ISBN-13: 978-1931236713

Fiction by Sherman Alexie



Alexie is the recipient of numerous awards including the 1999 O. Henry Award, the 2000 inaugural PEN/ Short Story Award, the Poetry Society of America's 2001 Shelley Memorial Award and the Poets and Writers "Writers Exchange 2001" Contest. He was a member of the 2000, 2001, 2005 & 2006 Independent Spirit Awards Nominating Committees. He has also served as a creative adviser to the Sundance Institute Writers Fellowship Program and the Independent Feature Films West (which has now been changed to Film Independent) Screenwriters Lab. Alexie most recently was a juror for the 2005 Rae Award.

At the University of Washington's 2003 commencement ceremony, Alexie was the commencement speaker. He was an Artist in Residence at the university and taught courses in American Ethnic Studies in 2004, 2006 and 2008. In 2003, he earned the Regents' Distinguished Alumnus Award, Washington State University's highest honor for alumni. He also holds honorary degrees from Seattle University (doctor of humanities, honoris causa - 2000) and Columbia College, Chicago (1999). Alexie has worked as a mentor for the PEN Emerging Writers program.

Awards and honors

  • 1991: Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship
  • 1992: National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship
  • The New York Times Book Review Notable book of the Year for The Business of Fancydancing
  • Slipstream Chapbook Contest Winner for I Would Steal Horses
  • 1993: Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award
  • Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award Citation
  • PEN/Hemingway Award: Best First Book of Fiction Citation Winner for The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
  • Great Lakes College Association: Best First Book of Fiction Award
  • 1994: Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Distances
  • 1996: Before Columbus Foundation: American Book Award
  • Morgan Murray Prize for Reservation Blues
  • Granta Magazine: Twenty Best American Novelists Under the Age of 40
  • 1998: Tacoma Public Library Annual Literary Award
  • New York Times Notable Book for Indian Killer
  • People Magazine: Best of Pages
  • Winner, 17th Annual World Championship Poetry Bout
  • 1999: The New Yorker: 20 Writers for the 21st Century
  • 2007: National Book Award prize for Young People's literature for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • 2008: Washington State Book Awards Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award for Middle Grades/Young Adults for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • 2009: The Swedish Peter Pan Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Translators of Sherman Alexie's works

Alexie's works have been translated into many languages. His translators include:

See also

Notes and references

External links and further reading


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sherman Alexie, Jr. (born 1966-10-07 in Spokane, Washington) is an award-winning and prolific writer (of novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays) and occasional comedian who lives in Seattle, Washington. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American (he is a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian) in the United States.



Smoke Signals (1998)

  • Thomas: Hey Victor! I'm sorry 'bout your dad.
    Victor: How'd you hear about it?
    Thomas: I heard it on the wind. I heard it from the birds. I felt it in the sunlight. And your mom was just in here cryin'.
  • Victor: Get Stoic.
  • Thomas: Sometimes it's a good day to die, and sometimes it's a good day to have breakfast.
  • Nurse: You guys are like the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
    Thomas: We're more like Tonto and Tonto.
  • Victor: White people won't respect you if you don't look mean. You have to look like a warrior, like you just got back from killing a buffalo.
    Thomas: But our tribe never hunted buffalo. We were fishermen.
    Victor: What, you want to look like you just caught a fish? This isn't Dances with Salmon, you know!
  • Randy Peone: It's a good day to be indigenous!

Ten Little Indians (2003)

  • He hated to leave, but he loved his work. He was a man, and men needed to work. More sexism! More masculine tunnel vision! More need for gender-sensitivity workshops!
  • He wondered if she would dream about a man who never left her, about some unemployed agoraphobic Indian warrior who liked to wash dishes.
  • I don't want long hair, I don't want short hair, I don't want hair at all, and I don't want to be a girl or a boy, I want to be a yellow-orange leaf some little kid picks up and pastes in his scrapbook.
  • [Flying into Baltimore after 9/11] I didn't want to see some pacifist, vegan, whole-wheat, free-range, organic, progressive, gray-ponytail, communist, liberal, draft-dodging, NPR-listening wimp! What are they going to do if somebody tries to hijack the plane? Throw a Birkenstock at him? Offer him some pot?...I was hoping for about twenty-five NRA-loving, gun-nut, serial-killing, psychopathic, Ollie North, Norman Schwarzkopf, right-wing, Agent Orange, post-traumatic-stress-disorder, CIA, FBI, automatic-weapon, smart-bomb, laser-sighting bastards!
  • Oh, I'm sorry, sir, if I offended you. I am not anti-Semitic. I love all of my brothers and sisters. Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, even the atheists, I love them all. Like you Americans sing, 'Joy to the world and Jeremiah Bullfrog!
  • William always scanned the airports and airplanes for little brown guys who reeked of fundamentalism. That meant William was equally afraid of Osama bin Laden and Jerry Falwell wearing the last vestiges of a summer tan. William himself was a little brown guy, so the other travelers were always sniffing around him, but he smelled only of Dove soap, Mennen deoderant, and sarcasm.

External links

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