1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Sherman Alexie

By

Sherman Alexie

© Susan Sheridan

Sherman Alexie Birth:

Sherman Alexie was born on October 7, 1966 on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA.

Sherman Alexie Background:

Sherman Alexie, the son a Spokane Indian mother and a Coeur d’Alene Indian father, was born hydrocephalic (with water on the brain) and at six months underwent a brain operation from which he was not expected to survive. He did more than that. Despite the resulting childhood seizures, Alexie turned out to be an advanced reader and was purportedly reading novels like The Grapes of Wrath at the age of five.


As a teenager enrolled in the reservation schools, Alexie found his mother's name written in a textbook assigned to him. Determined not to spend his life on the reservation, he sought a better education at the high school in Reardan, Washington, where he was a top student and a star basketball player. Upon graduation in 1985, Alexie attended Gonzaga University on a scholarship from which he transferred to Washington State University after two years to study pre-med.


Fainting spells in anatomy class convinced Alexie to change his major, a decision reinforced by a love of poetry and an aptitude for writing. He graduated with a bachelors degree in American Studies and shortly thereafter received the Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship.

As a young man, Alexie struggled with alcoholism but gave up drinking at the age of 23 and has been sober since.

Sherman Alexie Writing:

Sherman Alexie's first collection of short stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993) won him a PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction. He followed up with a first novel, Reservation Blues (1995) and a second, Indian Killer (1996), both award winners. In 2010, Alexie was awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award for his short story collection, War Dances.
Alexie, whose work draws mainly from his experiences as a Native American both on and off the reservation, collaborated in 1997 with Chris Eyre, a Cheyenne/Arapaho Indian filmmaker. The pair rewrote one of Alexie's short stories, "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," into a screenplay. The resulting film, Smoke Signals, premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win several awards.
Sherman Alexie is the recipient of numerous literary and artistic awards. He was a World Poetry Bout Association champion for four consecutive years, and a guest editor of the literary journal Ploughshares; his short story "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" was selected by juror Ann Patchett as her favorite story for The O. Henry Prize Stories 2005.

Alexie lives in Seattle with his wife and two sons.

Sherman Alexie's Recent Work:

  • War Dances (2009)
  • Flight (2007)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007)
  • Ten Little Indians (2003)

More Authors By Name:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  1. About.com
  2. Entertainment
  3. Contemporary Literature

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.