I went to school in Tucson and my first year there, I lived with a girl from Shonto, Arizona. She was Navajo, and though she wasn’t far from home relative to many of the other freshmen, she was felt terribly out of place, lonely, and home sick. I had no real exposure to the American Indian experience, and still don’t in many ways. I didn’t know how to interact with her or help her really. I regret still I didn’t try harder. She struggled a lot that year, clinging to her few friends who had also come from the reservation.
The next year I took a creative writing course and started reading Native American authors, among them Sherman Alexie. I think fiction can inform in ways non-fiction often can’t. Maybe this is because story telling gets to the heart of individual experience. He’s a remarkable writer. The New York Times writes, “Alexie gives us story as our most essential ally-story as the best way we can make sense, use , and sometimes heal the absurdity and suffering in the world.”
American Indians have been and continue to be marginalized in many ways. It’s hard to know for example what to think about these somewhat lame attempts to make good in the form of casinos. But to read Sherman Alexie is to gain a window into the experience, in all it’s beauty and misery and at times, hilarity. His writing is funny, clever and memorable. You can read one of his stories, What You Pawn I Will Redeem, on The New Yorker website. Alexie will be coming to Stanford this Friday, April 25
- Friday, April 25, 2014
- 7:30 pm
- CEMEX Auditorium (Zambrano Hall), Knight Management Center Map
From Stanford’s Event page:
“Sherman Alexie has been named one of The New Yorker’s twenty top writers for the 21st century, and his work has received many awards, including the PEN/Hemingway award for his first story collectionThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. His book Ten Little Indians was named one ofPublishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year, and he received the National Book Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. His most recent collection of stories, Blasphemy, was named one of the best books of the year by Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times, and NPR.”