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Writer, Filmmaker Sherman Alexie to Speak at KSC

KEENE, N.H. 3/17/03 - Sherman Alexie, who was named by The New Yorker magazine as one of the top writers for the 21st century, will speak at Keene State College on Tuesday, March 25.

In his talk, "Without Reservation: An Urban Indian’s Comic, Poetic and Highly Irreverent Look at the World," Alexie will address contemporary issues in the U.S. and the world, including politics, race, reservation life, and the war on terror. He will speak at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room of the Student Center. Tickets for the event are $5 and may be purchased from the information desk in the Student Center beginning March 23.

Alexie’s novel Reservation Blues is the focus of the 2002-03 Summer Reading Program at Keene State. All incoming students were encouraged to read the novel last summer so they could share a common learning experience during the academic year. The novel has been discussed in several English classes and seminars on campus.

Besides the best-selling Reservation Blues, his books include Indian Killer and 12 collections of poetry and short stories. He is also a recorded songwriter, an award-winning independent filmmaker, and a stand-up comedian.

A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Wash. He attended Gonzaga University in Spokane on scholarship in 1985, planning to become a doctor. After fainting three times in human anatomy class, he changed careers and transferred to Washington State University, where he studied American history and discovered writing. Shortly after graduating from WSU, Alexie received a Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. A year later, his first two poetry collections, The Business of Fancydancing and I Would Steal Horses, were published.

In his work, Alexie often subverts the notion of noble Indians and instead presents the harsh realities of urban life. In Reservation Blues, a Spokane Indian blues band enjoys a magical rise to success but collapses in real-life dysfunction. Smoke Signals, a film Alexie adapted from his story ‘The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,’ deals with the awareness of white America that two friends get when they leave the reservation to retrieve the body of one of their fathers.

In recent years, Alexie has turned his attention to filmmaking. He wrote the screenplay for and produced Smoke Signals, which premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and won both the Audience Award and the Filmmakers Trophy. Last year, Alexie released his directorial debut, The Business of Fancydancing, which he also wrote. He is currently working on a screenplay adaptation of his story ‘The Toughest Indian in the World,’ which he will also direct and co-produce.

Alexie has won numerous awards for his writing. Reservation Blues was Booklist’s Editors’ Choice Award for Fiction. Indian Killer was a New York Times Notable Book and ‘The Toughest Indian in the World’ won the 2001 PEN/Malamud award, which honors excellence in storytelling. His new book, Ten Little Indians, will be published this June.

For more information, contact Sally Joyce, associate professor of English, at 603-358-2691.

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