Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie on campus

Sherman Alexie, an award-winning author, poet and screenwriter, will discuss his life and work – and the connections between the two – at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 8 in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College.

The public is invited to attend, and admission is free.

All audience members must have a ticket to gain entrance. Groups of 10 or more must make reservations for seating by stopping by the box office (open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday in Carlsen Center) or calling 913-469-4445.

Individuals or groups of nine or fewer are also encouraged to reserve or pick up tickets before March 8. A limited number of tickets may be available the day of the event, but seating is not guaranteed.

Alexie, who appears at JCCC as part of its scholar-in-residence program, had to postpone his October 2011 initial booking due to a family emergency.

His rescheduled presentation is entitled “The Partially True Story of the True Diary of a Part-time Indian” and reflects the semi-autobiographical nature of his recent young adult novel.

That book,  “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” won the 2007 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and has spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times’ best-seller list for children’s literature.

It tells the story of Arnold Spirit, a 14-year-old Native American who decides to leave the reservation school in favor of a high school 20 miles away. Arnold and the school mascot are the only Indians in the rich, white school, and Arnold struggles with issues of identity and community.

Monica Hogan, professor, English, was part of the selection committee that chose Alexie as its fall scholar and “The Absolutely True Diary of the Part-Time Indian” as its Common Read selection for fall 2011.

“When I nominated Alexie’s book, I was looking for a good read—something that if I could get my students to start reading that they would finish,” she said. “More importantly, students at community colleges often share similar experiences to those of the main character in Alexie’s novel, but this novel gives readers an opportunity to reinterpret individual self-worth and community.”

The New Yorker recently named Alexie as one of the top 20 writers for the 21st century, and The New York Times Book Review described him as “one of the major lyric voices of our time.”

He incorporates both personal pain and comedic turns in his appearances, and according to his speaking profile, “With his humorous, revealing and exuberant works of art, he compels audiences to see the world for all of its pitfalls and possibilities.”