Sherman Alexie

American author and filmmaker

Sherman Alexie, Jr. (born 7 October 1966 in Spokane, Washington) is an award-winning and prolific writer (of novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays) and occasional comedian who lives in Seattle, Washington. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American (he is a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian) in the United States.

Sherman Alexie in 2007


  • "I knew — because of my race, and my class, and rural geography ... all these forces that crush all sorts of American kids, crush their hopes and dreams — I knew I had no chance unless I left and went to a better school.”
  • "My father was always depressed. When he was home and sober, he was mostly in his room…You always knew they were coming: he was never violent, but short-tempered. It wasn't a violent house, but a violent reservation."
  • “…It wasn't just the influence of tribal cultures, it was the assimilation into fundamentalist Christianity, which is even more warrior culture, even more honor culture, and even more suspicious of difference. So I was getting bombarded not only by the more fundamentalist aspects of my tribe, but the more fundamentalist aspects of our assimilation into Christianity. So that was going on all around us, and, in fact, in second grade we had this ex-nun teacher who put us into stress positions as torture.”
  • "It was arrogance…I had the feeling I was going to be successful, and I didn't want to be another disappointing Indian. The mess my father was, it broke my heart. I didn't want to break an Indian kid's heart."
  • My 2017 is gonna be white liberals shocked about white racism & white conservatives denying white racism exists. Just like every other year.
    • Dec. 31, 2016 on Twitter, quoted here
  • Thomas: Hey Victor! I'm sorry 'bout your dad.
    Victor: How'd you hear about it?
    Thomas: I heard it on the wind. I heard it from the birds. I felt it in the sunlight. And your mom was just in here cryin'.
  • Victor: Get Stoic.
  • Thomas: Sometimes it's a good day to die, and sometimes it's a good day to have breakfast.
  • Nurse: You guys are like the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
    Thomas: We're more like Tonto and Tonto.
  • Victor: White people won't respect you if you don't look mean. You have to look like a warrior, like you just got back from killing a buffalo.
    Thomas: But our tribe never hunted buffalo. We were fishermen.
    Victor: What, you want to look like you just caught a fish? This isn't Dances with Salmon, you know!
  • Randy Peone: It's a good day to be indigenous!

Ten Little Indians (2003)

  • He hated to leave, but he loved his work. He was a man, and men needed to work. More sexism! More masculine tunnel vision! More need for gender-sensitivity workshops!
  • He wondered if she would dream about a man who never left her, about some unemployed agoraphobic Indian warrior who liked to wash dishes.
  • I don't want long hair, I don't want short hair, I don't want hair at all, and I don't want to be a girl or a boy, I want to be a yellow-orange leaf some little kid picks up and pastes in his scrapbook.
  • [Flying into Baltimore after 9/11] I didn't want to see some pacifist, vegan, whole-wheat, free-range, organic, progressive, gray-ponytail, communist, liberal, draft-dodging, NPR-listening wimp! What are they going to do if somebody tries to hijack the plane? Throw a Birkenstock at him? Offer him some pot?...I was hoping for about twenty-five NRA-loving, gun-nut, serial-killing, psychopathic, Ollie North, Norman Schwarzkopf, right-wing, Agent Orange, post-traumatic-stress-disorder, CIA, FBI, automatic-weapon, smart-bomb, laser-sighting bastards!
  • Oh, I'm sorry, sir, if I offended you. I am not anti-Semitic. I love all of my brothers and sisters. Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, even the atheists, I love them all. Like you Americans sing, 'Joy to the world and Jeremiah Bullfrog!
  • William always scanned the airports and airplanes for little brown guys who reeked of fundamentalism. That meant William was equally afraid of Osama bin Laden and Jerry Falwell wearing the last vestiges of a summer tan. William himself was a little brown guy, so the other travelers were always sniffing around him, but he smelled only of Dove soap, Mennen deoderant, and sarcasm.

Quotes about Sherman Alexie

  • The Northwest is blessed with some of the best writers in the country, such as Charles Johnson, Colleen McElroy, and Sherman Alexie.
    • Kathleen Alcalá "Your Grandmother Might Have Been Mayor, or Why Write?" (1990), included in The Desert Remembers My Name: On Family and Writing (2007)
  • Despite cycling and recycling the same old tropes told in the same voice, [a Sherman Alexie book] has received not one poor review. Is Alexie really such a flawless writer that critics cannot go beyond praise as repetitive as his oeuvre itself? Or are most reviewers seduced by the charming prose of an Indian who eases their guilty consciences? The latter seems much more likely…For both Vine Deloria and Alexie, humor is about survival. The difference however is that Deloria sees survival in asserting tribal Indian identity, Alexie sees it in chuckling distance.”
  • Time slippages in Sherman Alexie's Flight teach that you can outrun the monster of revenge, move beyond the anger that turns righteous justice into senseless violence, and forgive.
    • Grace Dillon Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (2012)
  • Sherman Alexie's "Distances" directly invokes the Ghost Dance and subsequently mixes a sense of nostalgia with Indian trapdoor humor, suggesting that a bitterly satiric approach is the valid response to the traumatic impact of apocalyptic eschatology on First Nations peoples.
    • Grace Dillon Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (2012)
  • By my count, there are now over 20 women who are accusing him of harassment
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