Sherman Alexie Biography, Career, Family, Awards, and Books

Last Updated on August 7, 2022 by Administrator

Sherman Alexie Biography

Sherman Alexie, born Sherman Joseph Alexie Jr., is a Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-American novelist, short story writer, poet, and filmmaker. He mostly writes in the genres of Native American literature, humor, and documentary fiction drawing from his experiences as an indigenous American with ancestry consisting of many tribes. He has written notable books like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Smoke Signals, Reservation Blues, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir, and War Dances and has won notable awards like the American Book Award, The National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Sherman Alexie

He was also the guest editor for the 2015 Best American Poetry series.

Sherman Alexie Age

He was born on the 7th of October 1966 in the Sacred Heart Hospital located in Spokane, Washington, United States.

Sherman Alexie Family

Sherman Alexie was born to Sherman Joseph Alexie, a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, and his mother, Lillian Agnes Cox, a member of the Colville, Choctaw, Spokane, and European American ancestry and worked as a clerk at the Wellpinit Trading Post. His ancestry consists of Russian elements since one of his paternal great-grandfathers was Russian.

Sherman Alexie Wife

Sherman is married to Diane Tomhave of Hidatsa, Ho-Chunk, and Potawatomi heritage. The couple has two sons and lives together in Seattle.

Sherman Alexie Career

He chose to go for writing after trying out anatomy, which didn’t work out, and Law, which wasn’t suitable either. Studying literature gave him comfort causing him to drop out of Gonzaga University and enroll into the Washington State University and take a course in creative writing. There, he was mentored and inspired by his teacher, Alex Kuo, a respected poet of Chinese-American background. He later began working on his first collection, The Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Poems, published in 1992 after getting motivated by reading the book Songs of This Earth on Turtle’s Back, by Joseph Bruchac referred to him by Alex Kuo. After the success of his first book, he dropped out of school however, in 1995, he was awarded a bachelor’s degree by Washington State University.

His stories have been featured in a number of short story anthologies as well as various literary magazines, journals, and online publications. His books express despair, poverty, violence, and alcoholism among the lives of Native American people. These themes are lightened by wit and humor. His writings are aimed at evoking sadness but also provide a sense of respect, understanding, and compassion through humor and pop culture. He blends elements of popular culture, Indian spirituality, and the drudgery of poverty-ridden reservation life to create his characters and the world they inhabit so as not to rely solely on traditional Indian forms.

Sherman Alexie’s Literary Works


  • The Business of Fancydancing: Stories and Poems (1992)
  • Old Shirts and New Skins (1993)
  • First Indian on the Moon (1993)
  • Seven Mourning Songs For the Cedar Flute I Have Yet to Learn to Play (1994)
  • Water Flowing Home (1996)
  • The Summer of Black Widows (1996)
  • The Man Who Loves Salmon (1998)
  • One Stick Song (2000)
  • Face (2009), Hanging Loose Press (April 15, 2009)
  • Hymn (2017)

Short Stories:

  • Superman and Me (1997)
  • The Toughest Indian in the World (2000)
  • What You Pawn I Will Redeem (2003)
  • Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories (2012)
  • “Because My Father Always Said He Was the Only Indian Who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play ‘The Star−Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock”
  • The Human Comedy (2010)
  • Idolatry (2011)
  • Murder-Suicide (2012)
  • Happy Trails (2013)
  • Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest (2017)
  • A Vacuum is a Space Entirely Devoid of Matter (2017)


  • Reservation Blues (1995)
  • Indian Killer (1996)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007)
  • Flight (2007)


  • You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (2017)

Short Fiction:

  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993)
  • The Toughest Indian in the World (2000)
  • Ten Little Indians (2004)
  • War Dances (2009)
  • Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories (2012)

Sherman Alexie Quotes

  • The dream he needed most was the dream that frightened him more.
  • Don’t live up to your stereotypes.
  • In the middle of the night, when you’re ambiguously ethnic, like me, when you’re brown, beige, mauve, Siena, one of those lighter browns in the Crayola box. You have to be careful of the cops and robbers because nobody’s quite sure what you are, but everybody has assumptions.
  • My only purpose is to teach children to rebel against authority figures.
  • When you read a piece of writing that you admire, send a note of thanks to the author.
  • In a real-world way, my gifts are very limited in terms of what I can do.
  • Nostalgia is always doomed and dooming.

Sherman Alexie Awards

  • National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship
  • PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction for the story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven[8]
  • Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award
  • American Book Award (Before Columbus Foundation) for Reservation Blues
  • Granta Magazine: Twenty Best American Novelists Under the Age of 40
  • New York Times Notable Book for Indian Killer
  • People Magazine: Best of Pages
  • The New Yorker: 20 Writers for the 21st Century
  • PEN/Malamud Award
  • National Book Award, Young People’s Literature, for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • American Library Association Odyssey Award as the year’s “best audiobook for children or young adults”
  • PEN/Faulkner Award for War Dances
  • Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Puterbaugh Award “, the first American Puterbaugh fellow
  • California Young Reader Medal for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • The John Dos Passos Prize for Literature

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