Photo: Alton Christensen

Sherman Alexie


Sherman Alexie is an award-winning poet, novelist, short-story writer, and filmmaker. He has published 22 books including The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, winner of a 2007 National Book Award; War Dances, recipient of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award; and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, which earned the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book.  His latest work, Blasphemy, is a collection of short stories old and new.

Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, was raised on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State. As an infant he was treated for hydrocephalus, which doctors feared would leave him developmentally disabled. To the contrary, he was reading by age three and tackled novels, including The Grapes of Wrath by age five. Alexie decided to leave the reservation for high school in Reardan, Washington, where he excelled in his studies and basketball.

Alexie decided to become a writer while attending Washington State University and in 1992, only a year after leaving WSU, published his first two poetry collections. Alexie’s first collection of short stories was published by Atlantic Monthly Press a year later and his first two novels followed shortly thereafter — Reservation Blues (1995), and Indian Killer (1996).

Alexie embarked on his first major filmmaking project, Smoke Signals, in 1997 with Chris Eyre, an award-winning director and producer who is Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian. The film, which was based on a short story in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, won an Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998 and was picked up for distribution by Miramax.

When not writing, Sherman is known for his commanding stage presence. He performs standup comedy, and held the title of World Heavyweight Poetry Champion for four consecutive years. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.