Sunday, 1 June 2008

Review: " The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

I've read quite a bit of Sherman Alexie's work previously. I've particularly enjoyed his short story collections, "Ten Little Indians" and "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" are great, full of humor, pain, and wisdom.

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian" is a novel (with excellent illustrations) targeted at younger audiences. As with the outstanding "Summerland" by Michael Chabon, "Diary" is a coming of age story. The main character (Arnold Spirit) is a young man straddling two worlds, the Indian world of his upbringing and family life, and the white world of his new high school. He feels compelled to take advantage of the possibilities for growth his new school offers, but feels as though his success is an insult to everyone who has stayed on the reservation. His thoughts about reservation life, poverty, alcoholism and life in general are well observed and distilled down to their essence.

It's a great work, and a very quick and fun read. I'm nibbling at the edges of another of the author's works ("Flight") at the moment, expect a review shortly.

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