Award-winning author Alexie to speak Oct. 5

imageSherman Alexie, the award-winning author of “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” and other books, will speak at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, in the Laker Hall gymnasium.

“The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” was selected for campus-wide reading under the college’s Oswego Reading Initiative. In addition to this admission-free lecture, classes, performances and other activities tie into the collection of short stories about characters struggling on a Spokane Indian reservation in Washington.

Alexie has been named one of the top 20 writers of the 21st century by The New Yorker. The book that ORI selected won such honors as the 1993 PEN/Hemingway Award for best first book of fiction and the 1994 Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Writers Award.

“These spare, disturbing stories trace with stark, lyric power the experience of American Indians in the modern world,” the New York Times said of the book. The Library Journal observed that “the text brims with humor and passion as it juxtaposes ancient customs with such contemporary artifacts as electric guitars and diet Pepsi.”

Alexie produced and wrote the screenplay for “Smoke Signals,” a film based on part of the book. The first feature film produced, written and directed by American Indians, “Smoke Signals” premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and earned the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy. Miramax subsequently picked the film up for wide distribution.

Upon the publication of Alexie’s first book, a collection of poetry and stories called “The Art of Fancydancing,” The New York Times Book Review hailed him as “one of the major lyric voices of our time.” His other books include “Reservation Blues,” a Booklist Editors Choice for Fiction; “Indian Killer,” a New York Times Notable Book; and “Ten Little Indians,” a Publishers Weekly Book of the Year.

A sought-after speaker, Alexie has appeared on such television programs as “NOW with Bill Moyers,” “Politically Incorrect,” “60 Minutes II” and an edition of “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” on former President Clinton’s national dialogue on race.

His storytelling skills helped him win the World Heavyweight Championship Poetry Bout four years in a row, from 1998 to 2001.

There is no admission fee for the Oct. 5 program, which is open to the public and was moved to the Laker Hall gym to accommodate a surge in interest, organizers said. To accommodate anticipated demand, passes are required to enter. Passes are available through the Hewitt Union box office or by calling 312-2939. Passes may be acquired at the lecture on a space-available basis.

Alexie’s lecture is sponsored by several SUNY Oswego groups: Artswego, Auxiliary Services, the Coalition for Peace Education, the Native American Heritage Association, the Student Association Art Exhibition Commmittee and the Student Association Program Board.

For more information on the Oswego Reading Initiative and related programs, visit

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(Posted: Sep 15, 2004)