Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 230 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2009, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie and his avatar Junior are members of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Alexie grew up in Wellpinit, the Tribal Headquarters on the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington. Spokane means "Children of the Sun." The Tribe once inhabited over three million acres of land surrounding the Spokane and Columbia Rivers. In 1775, their population was estimated at between 1400 and 2500 people. The first white man to enter their territory was David Thompson, a trapper, who arrived in 1807. Under the Homestead Act of 1862, white settlers began taking possession of native lands. In 1881, President Rutherford B. Hayes pared the Tribe's land down to the present-day reservation, which comprises about 150,000 acres. But while their land has shrunk, their population is growing. Lewis and Clark counted 600 Spokane Indians in the early nineteenth century. Today, the tribe numbers over 2000 and continues to grow.


The Fake Memoirs of 'Nasdijj'

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is not Alexie's first foray into memoir. In 1993, Esquire published his short story, "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," featuring Thomas Builds-the-Fire, a boy of fragile health born to poor Indian parents on a reservation in Washington state. Six years later, Alexie was astonished to see that Esquire had published a plagiarized version of his story. The story, called "The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams," featured a poor, ill Indian boy named Tommy Nothing Fancy. It was later turned into an award-winning memoir of the same name, and was followed by two more memoirs. The only problem was that the author, who went by the cryptic name of Nasdijj and claimed to be Navajo, was actually a white writer named Timothy Barrus.


Interesting Links

An essay by Sherman Alexie on why false memoirs damage ethnic communities.

A short essay by Sherman Alexie about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

This article was originally published in January 2008, and has been updated for the March 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Amber Shadows
    The Amber Shadows
    by Lucy Ribchester
    The Amber Shadows sweeps readers into the realm of World War II-era Britain where Honor "Honey" ...
  • Book Jacket: Midwinter Break
    Midwinter Break
    by Bernard MacLaverty
    Northern Ireland's Bernard MacLaverty is the author of five novels and multiple short story ...
  • Book Jacket: The Ninth Hour
    The Ninth Hour
    by Alice McDermott
    In a pivotal scene in The Ninth Hour, young Sally encounters an increasingly loathsome series of ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Twelve-Mile Straight
    by Eleanor Henderson

    An audacious epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Love and Other Consolation Prizes
    by Jamie Ford

    Inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If the Creek Don't Rise

If the Creek Don't Rise

A debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y Can't M A S P O O A S E

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.