The Unspeakable with Meghan Daum
The Unspeakable Podcast
Has Literature Canceled Itself?

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Has Literature Canceled Itself?

Sherman Alexie on reading, writing, and book banning

Early access to the March 25, 2024, edition.

Paid subscribers get full access to my interview with Sherman Alexie.

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Sherman Alexie is a writer, poet and filmmaker. In this interview, he discusses the 2018 allegations against him, banned books and the state of writing today.

If you were in middle school or high school in the last couple of decades, there’s a good chance you were assigned Sherman’s classic young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, an epistolary novel with cartoon illustrations about a native teenage boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation who decides to attend a nearly all-white high school. The book is semi-autobiographical. Sherman grew up on that reservation in the 1970s and 80s and is a member of the Spokane Tribe. He is also arguably — or perhaps inarguably — the most significant native American writer of the last 30 years. Not only did The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian win the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, among other prizes, but his 2009 book War Dances won the 2010 Pen/Faulkner award for fiction, and his 1993 story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven was adapted into the popular and highly acclaimed film Smoke Signals.

Best of all (for me, anyway), Sherman is teaching a class for the brand-new Unspeakeasy School Of Thought. It’s in a brand new genre: Writing Your Cancelation Story.

In this conversation, Sherman talks about his career, his 2018 “cancelation event” (or at least its aftermath) and offers his thoughts on the state of writing and publishing, not least of all the recent incident wherein editors at the journal Guernica retracted an essay when the Twitter mob and its own staffers deemed it harmful, even “genocidal.”

Guest Bio

Sherman Alexie is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, memoirist, and filmmaker. He’s published two dozen books, including The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and was listed by the American Library Association as the Most Banned and Challenged Book from 2010 to 2019. He’s won the PEN-Faulkner and PEN-Malamud awards, and he wrote and co-produced the award-winning film Smoke Signals, which was based on his short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

Visit Sherman’s Substack.

Check out his upcoming course here.

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The Unspeakable with Meghan Daum
The Unspeakable Podcast
The Unspeakable Podcast is a weekly interview show hosted by writer Meghan Daum. It's a place for conversations with writers, scientists, philosophers, artists and all kinds of interesting people about topics that have been deemed "unspeakable." Of the many podcasts offering nuanced conversations, this is the only one with official Nuanced AF merchandise available at the Nuance Store.
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