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2013 News Releases

Sherman Alexie to be awarded Longwood’s John Dos Passos Prize for Literature on Oct. 22

October 17, 2013

Sherman Alexie (Photo by Will Austin) Sherman Alexie (Photo by Will Austin)

American novelist and short story writer Sherman Alexie will be awarded the 32nd annual John Dos Passos Prize for Literature at Longwood University on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Alexie will receive the prize during a ceremony at 8 p.m. in Blackwell Hall ballroom that will include a reading by the author and be followed by a dessert reception at 9 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

"Alexie’s combination of dazzling, poetic prose and incisive humor is unparalleled in contemporary American literature," said Dr. David Magill, associate professor of English at Longwood and chair of this year's Dos Passos Prize Committee.

A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene tribal member, Alexie’s work frequently addresses the contemporary experiences of Native Americans, both on and off reservations. He focuses on not only familiar challenges, including substance abuse and poverty, but also the complexities of managing an indigenous identity in a Eurocentric culture. Novels such as Reservation Blues (1994) and short story collections such as The Toughest Indian in the World (2000) portray these conflicts with dark humor that simultaneously challenges stereotypes and satirizes American popular culture, while respectfully acknowledging the humanity and dignity of his Native American characters.

Alexie’s work has been previously recognized for its innovation and insightfulness, including a PEN/Hemingway Award for the short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993) and a National Book Award for Young People's literature for his semi-autobiographical novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007).

The John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, founded in 1980, honors a talented but overlooked American writer of the early 20th century by recognizing contemporary writers. Recipients are American creative writers who have produced a substantial body of significant publication that displays characteristics of Dos Passos' writing: an intense and original exploration of specifically American themes, an experimental approach to form, and an interest in a wide range of human experiences.