Published in 2007, and winner of the National Book Award, Sherman Alexie’s coming-of-age novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian gives readers insight into life on an Indian reservation. Alexie calls his gritty, dark novel “reservation realism.” The protagonist, Arnold Spirit, Jr., deals with abuse, bullying, poverty, alcoholism, and senseless violence; however, his humor and spirit remain hopeful. Junior leaves the reservation in search of a better education and a way out of his oppressive life, ultimately finding a new identity. This primary source set includes photographs, text documents, and interviews with Sherman Alexie that provide context for thematic elements within The Absolutely True-Diary of Part-Time Indian.
Additional resources for research
- Spokane Tribe of Indians website.
- “The Toughest Indian in the World: Writer Sherman Alexie Mixes Humor With His Anger,” 60 Minutes.
- Sherman Alexie, Poetry Foundation.
- Sherman Alexie’s acceptance speech for the National Book Award (starts at 3:55).