(Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr.), 1966–, Native American writer, b. Wellpinit, Spokane Indian Reservation, E Wash., studied Gonzaga Univ. and Washington State Univ. (B.A., 1991). Alexie writes of the joys and vicissitudes of Indian (the term he prefers) life in poems, short stories, novels, and films, which he also sometimes directs and coproduces. He describes reservation life in lyrical and witty language, writing of its myths, dances, and sports as well as its oppressive poverty and social problems, and he skillfully delineates his characters. His poems, among his earliest works, are collected in I Would Steal Horses
(1992), The Business of Fancydancing,
which also included prose (1992, film 2002), First Indian on the Moon
(1993), Old Shirts & New Skins
(1993), and What I've Stolen, What I've Earned
(2014). In 1993 Alexie published a prize-winning collection of related short stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,
which he later adapted into the film Smoke Signals
(1998), and his first novel, Reservation Blues
(1995), drew on characters developed in the 1993 stories. Other short-story collections include The Toughest Indian in the World
(2000), Ten Little Indians
(2003), War Dances
(2009), and Blasphemy
(2012); other novels, Indian Killer
(1996), a murder mystery made into a 1999 film that he wrote and directed, Flight
(2007), and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
(2007), a semiautobiographical young-adult novel that won a National Book Award.
See his memoir You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (2017); studies by D. Grassian (2005) and L. Lewis, ed. (2011).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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