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One author, five books. Pierce County READS Sherman Alexie

// Outspoken poet, novelist and screenwriter explores modern-day Native American issues

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What book will all of Pierce County be reading this year? Er, five books? In a break from tradition, Pierce County Library System chose five notable works from a single author for its 9th annual Pierce County READS program. Outspoken poet, novelist and screenwriter Sherman Alexie gets the nod as the 2016 featured author.

With razor-sharp wit and unsettling candor, Alexie writes about what it means to be Native American in an isolating and modern world. His writing explores powerful themes such as identity, prejudice, poverty and staggering self-doubt. His books also touch on the beautiful moments of everyday life that leave us changed forever. It doesn’t matter where you start. Settle in for a story that will make you laugh, cry and think.

Pierce County READS encourages everyone to read the same book at the same time and then come together to talk about it. Pierce County READS selections are best-selling works by a living author that appeal to wide audiences, present relevant themes and provoke meaningful discussions.

Culminating in a speaking event with the author, Pierce County READS is typically an eight-week program. Since there are five books this year, the library system is giving everyone an extra month to read and discuss the selections. Alexie will speak and sign books at a free event on April 29 at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood.

In addition, a full slate of programs highlighting themes in Alexie’s books includes major events at notable locations throughout Pierce County, as well as book and film discussions at Pierce County Libraries. The schedule will be announced on March 6 at www.piercecountyreads.org.

The five Pierce County READS books are:

· “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” (1993)

· “Reservation Blues” (1995)

· “Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” (2007)

· “Flight” (2007)

· “War Dances” (2009)

Print books and e-books can be checked out at all Pierce County Libraries and may be purchased at Garfield Books, Kings Books and Mostly Books at a 15 percent discount, as well as through Amazon Smile (proceeds benefit the Pierce County Library Foundation).

About Sherman Alexie

Born on the Spokane Indian Reservation and now living in Seattle, Alexie’s story is intense. He suffered hydrocephalus as a baby and beat a drinking problem in his 20s. He attended Gonzaga University and graduated from Washington State University. A few years later he received WSU’s highest alumni award.

Alexie is one of the most frequently banned authors in America, but he is also one of the most celebrated. The New Yorker named Alexie one of the top 20 writers for the 21st century. His novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” received a National Book Award and was named the best young adult book of all time by Time magazine. His novels have won Booklist’s Editor’s Choice Award, the PEN/Malamud Award and Publishers Weekly’s Book of the Year. His anthology, “Blasphemy,” was included on lists of 2012’s best books by Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times and NPR. He wrote the screenplay for the film, “Smoke Signals,” which won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

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