Sherman Alexie

A Collection of Critical Essays

Sherman Alexie is, by many accounts, the most widely read American Indian writer in the United States and likely in the world.  A literary polymath, Alexie's nineteen published books span a variety of genres and include his most recent National Book Award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Now, for the first time, a volume of critical essays is devoted to Alexie's work both in print and on the big screen.  Editors Jeff Berglund and Jan Roush have assembled twelve leading scholars of American Indian literature to provide new perspectives on a writer with his finger on the pulse of America.

Interdisciplinary in their approach to Alexie's work, these essays cover the writer's entire career, and are insightful and accessible to scholars and lay readers alike.  This volume is a worthy companion to the work of one of our nations's most recognized contemporary voices.

Jeff Berglund is an associate professor of English at Northern Arizona University. He is the author of Cannibal Fictions: American Explorations of Colonialism, Race, Gender, and Sexuality.; Jan Roush is an associate professor of English at Utah State University. She is the author of Pulling Leather: Being the Early Recollections of a Cowboy on the Wyoming Range, 1884–1889.

Table of Contents:

Edited by Jeff Berglund and Jan Roush, eds., Sherman A Collection of Critical Essays




Introduction: “Imagination Turns Every Word into a Bottle

     Rocket”: An Introduction to Sherman Alexie

     Jeff Berglund

Dancing That Way, Things Began to Change: The Ghost Dance as Pantribal Metaphor in Sherman Alexie’s Writing

     Lisa Tatonetti

“Survival = Anger x Imagination”: Sherman Alexie’s Dark Humor

     Philip Heldrich

“An Extreme Need to Tell the Truth”: Silence and Language in Sherman Alexie’s “The Trial of Thomas Builds-the-Fire”

     Elizabeth Archuleta

Rock and Roll, Redskins, and Blues in Sherman Alexie’s Work

     P. Jane Hafen

This Is What It Means to Say Reservation Cinema: Making Cinematic Indians in Smoke Signals

     James H. Cox

Native Sensibility and the Significance of Women in Smoke Signals

     Angelica Lawson

The Distinctive Sonority of Sherman Alexie’s Indigenous Poetics

     Susan Berry Brill de Ramírez

The Poetics of Tribalism in Sherman Alexie’s The Summer of Black Widows

     Nancy J. Peterson

Sherman Alexie’s Challenge to the Academy’s Teaching of Native American Literature, Non-Native Writers, and Critics

     Patrice Hollrah

“Indians Do Not Live in Cities, They Only Reside There”: Captivity and the Urban Wilderness in Indian Killer

     Meredith James

Indigenous Liaisons: Sex/Gender Variability, Indianness, and Intimacy in Sherman Alexie’s The Toughest Indian in the World

     Stephen F. Evans

Sherman Alexie’s Transformation of “Ten Little Indians”

     Margaret O’Shaughnessey

Healing the Soul Wound in Flight and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

     Jan Johnson

The Business of Writing: Sherman Alexie’s Meditations on Authorship

     Jeff Berglund




Praise and Reviews:

"The bar is raised. I believe this work will be seen as a role model for literary criticism of Native American fiction, poetry, and film."—Simon Ortiz, poet and professor of English at Arizona State University

"An important and timely work.... This volume sets a high standard of scholarship for those committed to grappling with the broader complexities of Alexie's life and work. The collaborative tenor of the project is particularly refreshing, because it invites scholars to converse across disciplines in order to keep pace with an iconic writer whose literary reputation now extends far beyond the Pacific Northwest."—Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"An exciting addition to the growing body of scholarship on Sherman Alexie's work. The extensive bibliography of work by and about Alexie that appears at the end of this collection alone makes this book an invaluable resource for scholars and future scholars of Alexie's work."—Studies in American Indian Literatures