Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

Infobox Writer
name = Sherman Alexie

caption = Sherman Alexie at the BookExpo Conference in New York City, 2007
birthname = Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr.
birthdate = Birth date and age|1966|10|07
birthplace = Spokane, Washington
deathdate =
deathplace =
occupation = Poet, Short-Story Writer, Novelist, Screenwriter, Filmmaker
nationality = Spokane/Coeur d'Alene/American
genre = Native American literature, Humor, Documentary fiction
movement = Indigenous Nationalism
influences =
influenced =
notableworks = "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven", "Smoke Signals" (film)
awards = American Book Award, National Book Award, PEN/Hemingway

Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr. (born October 7, 1966) is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. Sherman's best known works include "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven", "Smoke Signals", and "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian". He lives in Seattle, Washington.


Alexie was born in Spokane, Washington and is of Spokane and Coeur d'Alene heritage. He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, about 50 miles northwest of the city of Spokane.

He was born hydrocephalic ("with water on the brain"), and, at six months of age, underwent brain surgeries to correct the condition. His initial prognosis was grim; even after he survived in operations, doctors predicted that he would suffer mental retardation. However, in spite of suffering from seizures, Alexie proved to be an extremely intelligent child, who says he learned to read at the age of three and by the age of five read adult novels such as John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath".

Alexie's intelligence caused problems with his peers at the reservation school, who saw him as an outcast and frequently bullied him. He opted instead to attend a nearby public high school in Reardan, Washington, about 20 miles south of Wellpinit. There he excelled in academics and athletics, becoming a star basketball player and popular student.

Alexie graduated from high school in 1985 and entered Gonzaga University in Spokane on a scholarship. After two years at Gonzaga, he transferred to Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman. He initially planned to be a doctor but after fainting several times in his human anatomy class, he decided to choose a different career. He graduated with a B.A. in American studies, becoming one of the first members of his tribe to earn a university degree. His completion of his degree was a bit unorthodox. He left WSU in 1990 believing he had not met the requirements for the degree, and spent the next few years explaining that he could never finish his United States History survey because when Indians disappeared a few weeks in, so did he. In 1994, the director of the American Studies Program, Susan Armitage, examined his academic records and found that he had completed the requirements, but missed a minor administrative procedure. The degree was thus awarded that spring in a special ceremony , while he was on campus for a reading.Fact|date=July 2007

Writing career

Since 1991 Alexie has published 17 books, and has found success as a writer of novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays. Alexie's writing is marked by harsh depictions of reservation life, autobiographical elements, colorful use of humor, political outspokenness, seamless invocation of history and popular culture, and social commentary. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy and music.In college, Alexie was encouraged to write by his poetry professor, Alexander Kuo. His rise in the world of writing was rapid: he earned a Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship in 1991 and the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1992.

Only a year after leaving WSU, shortly after receiving his second fellowship, two of Alexie's poetry and short story collections were published: "The Business of Fancydancing" (Hanging Loose Press) and "I Would Steal Horses" (Slipstream Press). In the introduction to "The Business of Fancydancing", Alex Kuo wrote:

Alexie's literary successes prompted him to give up drinking, an issue with which he had struggled in college. At age 23 he gave up drinking and has been sober since.

In 1993, Atlantic Monthly Press published his first complete collection of short stories, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven". The collection earned him a PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. It was reissued, with the addition of two new stories, in March 2005 by Grove Atlantic Press.

Atlantic Monthly Press published Alexie's first novel, "Reservation Blues", in 1995. He was honored by the UK's "Granta" magazine as one of the Best Young American Novelists and won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award, as well as the Murray Morgan Prize.

In June 1998, Taos, New Mexico, Alexie competed in the World Poetry Bout Association (WPBA) and won his first World Heavyweight Poetry Bout, beating out world champion Jimmy Santiago Baca. He successfully defended his title three times, becoming the first and only poet to hold the championship for four consecutive years.

Alexie, alongside seven others, presented in the PBS "Lehrer News Hour" Dialogue on Race with President Clinton in 1998. Jim Lehrer moderated the discussion, which aired on PBS on July 9, 1998. Alexie has also been featured on "Politically Incorrect" and "60 Minutes II". He wrote a special segment on insomnia and his writing process called "Up All Night." for "NOW" with Bill Moyers.

At the Northwest Comedy Festival in Seattle in April 1999, Alexie made his stand-up debut at the Foolproof. In July 1999, he was the featured performer at the Vancouver International Comedy Festival's opening night gala.

In February 2003, Alexie participated in the Museum of Tolerance project, "Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves." This exhibit showcased the diversity within the personal histories of several noted Americans, and celebrated the shared experiences common to being part of an American family, encouraging visitors to seek out their own histories and heroes. He presented the Museum of Tolerance project as a guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in January 2003, in the episode "Our Big American Family."

Alexie has also served as a juror for several writing 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. Recently, he earned the 2003 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 also worked as a mentor for the PEN Emerging Writers program.

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. Alexie also served as the guest editor for the winter 2000-01 issue of "Ploughshares"

Alexie's book, "Flight" was published in April 2007. His most recently published book, the young adult novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" won the selection for the National Book Award in the young people's literature category. [cite news |last= Gwinn |first= Mary Ann |title= Sherman Alexie among National Book Award finalists |url= |publisher= The Seattle Times |date= 2007-10-11 |accessdate= 2007-10-11]


Sherman Alexie has been married since 1992 to Diane Tomhave, who is of Hidatsa, Ho-Chunk, and Potawatomi heritage, and they have two sons, the older of whom is named Joseph (b. ca. 1997), and the younger of whom is named David (b. ca. 2001).


Alexie is also noted for his love of the sport of basketball, both as a fan of the pro and college game, and a player of street ball, and has written extensively on the subject. He was a longtime fan of the Seattle Sonics, prior to the team's relocation to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 NBA season, and remains a fixture on the playgrounds of Seattle. His writings are frequently cited by notable basketball writers such as ESPN's Henry Abbott.

Prior to the relocation, the City of Seattle filed a lawsuit against the Sonics ownership group headed by businessman Clayton Bennett, in order to force the team to play out the remainder of its lease (which expired in 2010) in Seattle's KeyArena. Alexie testified in the trial as to the importance of the Sonics to the Seattle community, an experience which he would later call the "most terrifying and stressful public speaking gig I've ever had to endure."cite web|author=Sherman Alexie|title=Sixty-One Things I Learned During the Sonics Trial|date=2008-07-29|accessdate=2008-07-31|url=|work=The Stranger] The testimony was ultimately for naught, as the City of Seattle settled with the ownership group, permitting the team to break their lease and move to Oklahoma City for the following season, in exchange for a multi-million dollar cash settlement. Alexie has hinted that he may become a fan of the Sonics' former rival, the Portland Trail Blazers.



*"The Business of Fancydancing" (poetry, 1991)
*" [ I Would Steal Horses] " (poetry, 1992)
*"Old Shirts and New Skins" (poetry, 1993)
*"First Indian on the Moon" (poetry, 1993)
*"Seven Mourning Songs For the Cedar Flute I Have Yet to Learn to Play" (poetry, 1993)
*"Water Flowing Home" (poetry, 1995)
*"The Summer of Black Widows" (poetry, 1996)
*"The Man Who Loves Salmon" (poetry, 1998)
*"One Stick Song" (poetry, 2000)
*"Dangerous Astronomy" (poetry, 2005)


*"The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" (short stories, 1993)
*"Reservation Blues" (novel, 1995)
*"Indian Killer" (novel, 1996; referred to by Alexie as "a feel-good novel about interracial murder")
*"The Toughest Indian in the World" (short stories, 2000)
*"Ten Little Indians" (stories, 2003)
*"Flight" (novel, 2007)
*"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (young adult novel, 2007)


*"Smoke Signals" (writer, 1998; adapted from a short story, "This is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" in "Lone Ranger and Tonto")
*"The Business of Fancydancing" (writer and director, 2002)
*"49?" (writer, 2003)

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 Stroker Award Nomine for "Distances"
*1996: Before Columbus Foundation: American Book Award
*Morgan Murray Prize for "Reservation Blues"
*Granta Magazine: Twenty Best American Novelist 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"

ee also

*List of writers from peoples indigenous to the Americas
*Native American Renaissance
*Native American studies

Notes and references

* Nygren, Åse. "A World of Story-Smoke: A Conversation with Sherman Alexie." "MELUS" 30.4 (Winter 2005): 149-169. 18 June 2007.
* West, Dennis, and Joan M. West. "Sending Cinematic Smoke Signals: An Interview with Sherman Alexie." "Cineaste" 23.41998 29-33. 18 June 2007. []
* - News hour (Sherman, Clintion, Lehrer)

External links

* [ Official Sherman Alexie Site]
* [ Condensed biography with quotes and references to works]
* [ Full Sherman Alexie biography with summary of "Reservation Blues" and helpful quotes.]
* [ Alexie audio reading]
* [ Academy of American Poets Alexie page]
* [ Interview with Alexie]
* [ interview]
* [ Lesson plans] at Web English Teacher
* [ Analytical Essay on Symbolism in "Reservation Blues"]
* A list of articles and interviews of Sherman Alexie: []
* [ Interview on "Charlie Rose"] , June 26, 1998
* [ Interview with Tavis Smiley] (aired April 27, 2007)
* [ Interview on WNYC FM]

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См. также в других словарях:

  • Sherman Alexie — (* 7. Oktober 1966; geboren als Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr.) ist ein preisgekrönter indianisch amerikanischer Schriftsteller, Poet, Humorist und Drehbuchautor. Er stammt von den Stämmen der Spokane und Coeur d Alene ab und wuchs in Wellpinit im… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Smoke Signals (film) — Infobox Film name = Smoke Signals caption director = Chris Eyre producer = Carl Bressler Larry Estes Scott Rosenfelt David Skinner writer = Sherman Alexie starring = Adam Beach Evan Adams Irene Bedard Gary Farmer Tantoo Cardinal music = BC Smith… …   Wikipedia

  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven — Infobox Book | name = The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven title orig = translator = image caption = author = Sherman Alexie illustrator = cover artist = country = United States language = English series = subject = genre = Short stories …   Wikipedia

  • Coeur d'Alene — Heutige Reservate der Spokane, Colville, Coeur d Alene und Flathead Die Coeur d Alene (Selbstbezeichnung Schitsu umsh) sind ein Indianerstamm der Salish Gruppe im Pazifischen Nordwesten und eng verwandt mit den Spokane. Sie sind seit Einrichtung… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Schitsu'umsh — Heutige Reservate der Spokane, Colville, Coeur d Alene und Flathead Die Coeur d Alene (Selbstbezeichnung Schitsu umsh) sind ein Indianerstamm der Salish Gruppe im Pazifischen Nordwesten und eng verwandt mit den Spokane. Sie sind seit Einrichtung… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • literature — /lit euhr euh cheuhr, choor , li treuh /, n. 1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays. 2.… …   Universalium

  • Spokan — Die Spokane sind ein nordamerikanischer Indianerstamm der Salish Sprachfamilie. Sie gehören zu den Binnen Salish und lebten auf dem Columbia Plateau, das im Süden in das Große Becken übergeht. Somit werden sie dem Kulturareal des Plateau… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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