Sherman Alexie

He may be one of the most prominent Indian writers around today, but Sherman Alexie doesn’t play to the expectations of either white or Native American audiences. Though he almost always writes about characters who are, like himself, Indians from the Seattle/Spokane area, he feels no obligation to the traditions of identity politics and aims for stories that are, if necessarily filtered through his experience, about the wider human condition. He’s a deft ironist, but also knows how to mingle his humor with pain and pathos. His short-story collections include The Toughest Indian in the World and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, which he later adapted into the script for the indie-film sleeper Smoke Signals in 1998. His new collection, Ten Little Indians, adds nine more tales to his catalog, and some of his most mature writing to date. He’s also branched out into directing, with The Business of Fancydancing, featuring Smoke Signals star Evan Adams as a gay Spokane Indian writer shackled by an uneasy relationship with his past. The film is currently making the festival circuit and out on DVD July 8. Black Bear Crossings, 1360 N. Lexington Parkway; call Birchbark Books, (612) 374-4023, for more information