The English Department at UMass Amherst is pleased to present its 2009 Troy Lecture: author, poet, and screenwriter Sherman Alexie will discuss “The Business of Fancydancing” on Thursday, December 3rd at 4:30pm in the Student Union Ballroom.
Alexie has published a number of poetry collections, as well as novels and books of short fiction, and was named one of The New Yorker’s 20 top writers for the 21st century. His most recent books include Face (2009), Flight (2007), and Ten Little Indians (2003). He wrote and produced the film Smoke Signals based on his book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, which won the Audience Award and Filmmakers trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. In 2002, Alexie made his directorial debut with The Business of Fancydancing.
Alexie was born in 1966 on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington. He began life with a condition known as hydrocephalus (water on the brain), endured a serious operation in infancy, and was not expected to live or develop full brain function. However, by the age of three Alexie could already read, and by age five he could read and comprehend full-length novels.
Unfortunately, this earned him jealousy and ridicule from other children, and as a result, Alexie chose to attend high school off the reservation. As a high school student he became an active and talented participant in sports and academics. Alexie enrolled at Gonzaga University in 1985, and transferred to Washington State University in 1987. Though initially intending to become a physician, Alexie quickly developed a taste for poetry, and published his first book of poetry shortly after graduating from Washington State.
Since then, Alexie has written numerous books and has appeared as a public speaker, a guest on talk shows, and as a stand up comedian. He has participated in poetry competitions and readings, and has received several awards, honors, and fellowships. Alexie now lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.
2,000 students who read his book, Ten Little Indians, for the Honors Seminar Series at UMass will be in attendance. “The Business of Fancydancing” is open to the public, and attendance is free.