Sherman Alexie

(* 1966)

Sherman AlexieBiographical Sketch

Sherman Joseph Alexie, Jr. (born Wellpinit, WA, USA, October 7, 1966) is a poet, writer, and filmmaker. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a Native American growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington.

Some of his best known works are The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1994), a book of short stories, and Smoke Signals (1998), a film of his screenplay based on The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

His first novel, Reservation Blues, received one of the fifteen 1996 American Book Awards. His first young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is a semi-autobiographical novel that won the 2007 U.S. National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Odyssey Award as best 2008 audiobook for young people (read by Alexie himself). His collection of short stories and poems, entitled War Dances, won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Read more about Sherman Alexie on Wikipedia.


Major Awards and Honors

National Book Awards (USA)
  • 2007: Young People’s Literature – “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”
PEN/Faulkner Award (USA)
  • 2010: “War Dances”
PEN/Hemingway Award (USA)
  • 1993: Best First Book of Fiction – “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven”
PEN/Malamud Short Story Award (USA)
  • 2001 – Tied with Richard Ford.
O. Henry Award for Short Fiction (USA)
  • 2005: First Prize – “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” (pblished in The New Yorker)
Washington State Book Awards
  • 1994: “First Indian on the Moon,” “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” “Old Shirts and New Skins”
Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) Awards
  • 2008: “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”
National Endowment for the Arts (USA)
  • 1992: Poetry Fellowship



  • Reservation Blues (1995)
  • Indian Killer (1996)
  • Flight (2007)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007)
  • Flight (2007)
Short Stories
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993)
  • Superman and Me (1997)
    – Stand-alone short story.
  • The Toughest Indian in the World (2000)
  • Phoenix, Arizona (2000)
  • Ten Little Indians (2003)
  • What You Pawn I Will Redeem (2003)
    – In: Best American Short Stories 2004 (anthology).
  • War Dances (2009)
  • The Human Comedy (2010)
    – Stand-alone short story.
  • Idolatry (2011)
    – Stand-alone short story.
  • Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories (2012)
  • Murder-Suicide (2012)
    – Stand-alone short story.
  • Happy Trails (2013)
    – Stand-alone short story.
  • The Human Comedy Part II (2016)
    – Stand-alone short story.
  • Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest (2017)
    – Stand-alone short story.
  • A Vacuum Is a Space Entirely Devoid of Matter (2017)
    – Stand-alone short story.
  • I Would Steal Horses (1992)
  • The Business of Fancydancing (1992)
  • Old Shirts & New Skins (1993)
  • First Indian on the Moon (1993)
  • Seven Mourning Songs For the Cedar Flute I Have Yet to Learn to Play (1994)
  • Water Flowing Home (1994)
  • The Summer of Black Widows (1996)
  • The Man Who Loves Salmon (1998)
  • One Stick Song (2000)
  • Face (2009)
  • Hymn (2017)
Screenplays and Film Projects
  • Smoke Signals (1998)
  • The Business of Fancydancing (2002)
  • 49? (2003)
Children’s Books
  • Thunder Boy, Jr. (2016)
Anthology Contributions
  • Northwest Passages:
    A Literary Anthology of the Pacific Northwest From Coyote Tales to Roadside Attractions (1994)
  • Edge Walking on the Western Rim: New Works by 12 Northwest Writers (1994)
    Contribution: One Little Indian Boy (short story)
  • Durable Breath: Contemporary Native American Poetry (1994)
  • Full Court:
    A Literary Anthology of Basketball (1996)
    Contribution: Why We Play Basketball (short story)
  • The Best American Poetry 1996 (1996)
    Contribution: Capital Punishment (poem)
  • In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction (1996)
    Contribution: White Men Can’t Drum (essay)
  • Poetry of the American West (1996)
    Contribution: The Business of Fancydancing (poem)
  • Granta 54: Best of Young American Novelists (1996)
    Contribution: Integration (short story)
  • Postmodern American Fiction: A Norton Anthology (1997)
    Contribution: Captivity (poem)
  • The Most Wonderful Books:
    Writers on Discovering the Pleasures of Reading (1997)
    Contribution: Superman and Me (essay)
  • Home Field: Nine Writers at Bat (1997)
    Contribution: Warriors (poem)
  • Pacific Northwestern Spiritual Poetry (1998)
  • Prize Stories 1999: The O. Henry Awards (1999)
    – Prize jury: Sherman Alexie, Stephen King, Lorrie Moore
  • A Grain of Poetry:
    How to Read Contemporary Poems and Make Them a Part of Your Life (1999)
    Contribution: The Exaggeration of Despair (poem)
  • Scribner’s Best of the Fiction Workshops 1999 (1999)
    – Guest editor.
  • A Millennium Reflection: Seattle Poets and Photographers (1999)
  • The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: Fifty North American Stories Since 1970 (1999)
    Contribution: This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona (short story)
  • Growing Up Ethnic in America: Contemporary Fiction About Learning to be American (1999)
    Contribution: This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona (short story)
  • Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song (1999)
    Contribution: Defending Walt Whitman (poem)
  • Skins: Contemporary Indigenous Writing (2000)
  • Conversations With Screenwriters (2000)
  • Beacon Best of 2000:
    Great Writing by Women and Men of All Colors and Cultures (2000)
    Contribution: The Toughest Indian in the World (short story)
  • Tales Out of School:
    Contemporary Writers on Their Student Years (2000)
    Contribution: Indian Education (short story)
  • Here First: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers (2000)
    Contribution: The Unauthorized Biography of Me (essay)
  • First Loves:
    Poets Introduce the Essential Poems
    That Captivated and Inspired Them (2000)
    Contribution: Introduction to My Papa’s Waltz (Poem by Theodore Roethke)
  • The Logan House Anthology of 21st Century American Poetry (2001)
    Contribution: Evolution (poem)
  • American Diaspora: Poetry of Displacement (2001)
  • Best of Prairie Schooner: Fiction and Poetry (2001)
    Contribution: Wake and Toward Conception (poetry)
  • The Grove Press Reader 1951-2000 (2001)
    Contribution: The Toughest Indian in the World (short story)
  • Indian Country (2001)
    – Photojournalism, with Gwendolen Cates (photographer) and Richard W. West.
  • Poems for America:
    125 Poems That Celebrate the American Experience (2002)
    Contribution: At Navaho Monument Valley Tribal School (poetry)
  • Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America (2002)
  • Humor Me: An Anthology of Humor by Writers of Color (2002)
  • The Next American Essay (2003)
    Contribution: Captivity (essay)
  • The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry (3rd Ed.) (2003)
    Contributions: Evolution, Tourists, Crow Testament, On the Amtrak…, Native American Broadcasting System (poetry)
  • The Spoken Word Revolution:
    Slam, Hip Hop & the Poetry of a New Generation (2003)
    Contribution: Poetry from Taos Poetry Circus
  • Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (2003)
    Contribution: At Navaho Monument Valley Tribal School (poetry)
  • The Best American Short Stories 2004
    Contribution: What You Pawn I Will Redeem
  • You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (2017)


A Selection of Quotes

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

“Life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.”

“If you’re good at it, and you love it, and it helps you navigate the river of the world, then it can’t be wrong.”

“We Indians really should be better liars, considering how often we’ve been lied to.”

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

“Books and beer are the best and worst defense.”

The Toughest Indian in the World

“When you resort to violence to prove a point, you’ve just experienced a profound failure of imagination.”

Ten Little Indians

“Like any good shaman, professional baseball player, or politician, my mother always answered questions with questions.”

One Stick Song

“Poetry = Anger x Imagination”


Find more quotes by Sherman Alexie on Wikiquote and Goodreads.