Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sequel to The Absolutely True Diary...

Good news for fans of Sherman's Alexie's book The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian (is there anyone who isn't???): He's currently at work on the sequel to that book: The Magic and Tragic Year of My Broken Thumb, which will continue telling the story of Arnold Spirit, Jr., as he heads into his sophomore year. The Absolutely True Diary, winner of the National Book Award, is technically a Young Adult book, but I recommend that everyone read it, regardless of age.

Sherman is one of my favorite authors at book events, because he is smart, wickedly funny, and wildly supportive of independent booksellers. If you ever get a chance to go hear him read or speak in person, DO IT! You will be glad you did.

Here's some background information about Sherman you might find interesting, taken from his Web site: He was born in 1966 and grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane. He was born with water on the brain -- hydrocephalic -- and not expected to survive the brain operation he underwent at the age of six months. Fortunately for us, he did! But he suffered from seizures throughout his childhood. Despite these challenges,he learned to read at age three and became a voracious reader.

He chose to attend high school off the reservation in Reardan, about 20 miles south of Wellpinit, because he knew he would get a better education there. He was the only Indian at the school, except for the school mascot. Sherman excelled academically and became a star player on the basketball team. His experiences there inspired his YA novel.

After graduation he attended Gonzaga University and then transferred to WSU, intending to become a doctor. After fainting numerous times in human anatomy class he decided to change his career path. A poetry workshop fueled his writing ambitions, and Sherman had found his new path. He earned a BA in American Studies and then received a couple of poetry fellowships, which led to the publication of his first two poetry collections.

Sherman had a problem with alcohol in college, but he gave up drinking at age 23 and has been sober ever since. His first collection of short stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, was published by Atlantic Monthly Press in 1993, and it earned a PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction. In the late '90s, he wrote a screenplay based on one of the stories in that collection, "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona," which became the wildly popular film "Smoke Signals."

Sherman's first novel, Reservation Blues, was published in 1995 and his second, Indian Killer, in 1996 -- both by Atlantic Monthly Press. His novel Flight was published in 2007 by Grove/Atlantic. Besides being a writer, Sherman has also pursued work as a stand-up comic -- something you'll have no trouble believing if you've ever seen him speak.

While we don't yet have a date on the next Arnold Spirit book, we'll keep you posted as we hear anything. And if you haven't yet read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, now's your chance before the sequel is published!

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