Sherman Alexie

Sherman Joseph Alexie Jr. is a Native American author, poet, and filmmaker who explores his experiences as an Indigenous American with heritage from various tribes. Alexie achieved recognition with his first novel, Reservation Blues, which received the 1996 American Book Award.

Alexie was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington. He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. His father, Sherman Joseph Alexie, was a member of the Coeur d'Alene tribe, and his mother, Lillian Agnes Cox, was of Colville, Choctaw, Spokane, and European American ancestry.

Alexie attended high school at Reardan, where he was the only Native American student. Despite the challenges, he excelled academically and succeeded as a basketball player. College beckoned with a scholarship to Gonzaga University, but he struggled to find his calling, trying pre-med and law before discovering his passion in literature classes.

Feeling the weight of expectations, Alexie turned to heavy drinking to cope. However, a creative writing course by mentor Alex Kuo at Washington State University became a turning point. Introducing him to Native American poetry, the anthology "Songs of This Earth on Turtle's Back" profoundly impacted Alexie, igniting his passion for connecting with non-Native literature in a fresh, meaningful way.

His initial young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007), is partly autobiographical that earned the 2007 U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Sherman Alexie also won the Odyssey Award for the best audiobook for young people in 2008, narrated by himself.

One of his most famous works is The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993), a compilation of short stories. This book served as the basis for the film Smoke Signals (1998), for which he also penned the screenplay.

Furthermore, his collection of short stories and poems, War Dances (2009), was honored with the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Sherman Alexie currently resides in Seattle, Washington.

Photo Credit: fallsapart.com
years of life: 7 October 1966 present




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