Sherman Alexie Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Sherman Alexie
Photo © Rob Casey

Sherman Alexie

How to pronounce Sherman Alexie: sher-mn a-lexie

An interview with Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie discusses the short-story form and how his reading audience has changed over the years.

Why did you choose to publish new and selected stories now?
I published my first book of poems, The Business of Fancydancing, in 1992, so I thought I such do something special to mark my twenty-year publishing career. And also to honor my twenty-year relationship with Grove Press. In this digital era, I also loved the idea of having a thick, heavy book of mine sitting on the shelves. I wanted it to be physically and creatively substantial. I wanted it to be, yes, an old-fashioned tome.

You are a prolific writer of poetry, novels, screenplays, and recently, young adult books, but stories seem to be a favorite form of yours. Why?
I love writing stories because they seem to be a perfect blend of the brevity of poems and the extended narrative of novels. If the novel is a marathon and the poem is a sprint then the short story is the 800-meter run, which, by the way, is probably the most painful race to run. So I guess I like writing short stories because it's painful.

Do you have a favorite one in Blasphemy? One old, one new?
My favorite new story is "Cry, Cry, Cry," which returns to the Spokane Indian Reservation, and is just as tragic as many of my early stories, but also offers, if not redemption, then the hope of redemption. My favorite old story is "War Dances," which is, with its experimental form and structure combined with intense family dynamics, just damn good.

Who is your favorite short-story writer?
Lorrie Moore. So funny amidst so much pain.

How have your subject matters changed, or not, since your first collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, was published twenty years ago?
I started out writing stories exclusively about Spokane Reservation Indians. But over the years, as I have spent more years living off my reservation, my stories have become more about urban Indians and are also more culturally diverse—including stories that focus on non-natives and others that don't identify through race because it isn't relevant in that particular narrative.

Have you seen your audience change over the last twenty years?
Twenty years ago my audience was primarily college-educated, middle-class white women. Today it's primarily college-educated, middle-class white women. They remain the group most likely to cross real and imaginary borders and read the stories of an Indian boy. That said, I think I have, in many ways, moved from being a literary outsider to being an auxiliary member of the literati.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...
  • Book Jacket: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    by Hank Green
    As one half of the extremely popular YouTube duo "Vlogbrothers" (the other half being his brother ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for Eden
    Waiting for Eden
    by Elliot Ackerman
    Elliot Ackerman's latest novel, Waiting for Eden, follows Marine Eden Malcom as his death ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Paris Echo
    by Sebastian Faulks

    A story of resistance, complicity, and an unlikely, transformative friendship.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

The fact of knowing how to read is nothing, the whole point is knowing what to read.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.