The Toughest Indian in the World
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The Toughest Indian in the World

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  3,976 ratings  ·  233 reviews
A beloved American writer whose books are championed by critics and readers alike, Sherman Alexie has been hailed by Time as "one of the better new novelists, Indian or otherwise." Now his acclaimed new collection, The Toughest Indian in the World, which received universal praise in hardcover, is available in paperback. In these stories, we meet the kind of American Indian...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Grove Press (first published April 9th 2000)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichReservation Blues by Sherman AlexieCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
17th out of 449 books — 351 voters
Beyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealBeyond Bridalveil Fall by Sheryl SealThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichBlue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon
Native American Authors
22nd out of 177 books — 79 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Patti
I've been meaning to read one of Alexie's books for a while, especially since I taught the short story "Dear John Wayne" in the class I TA-ed last fall. Unfortunately, I found the short story collection The Toughest Indian in the World to be disappointingly uneven. Part of this may be the result of Alexie's unifying theme here--he says in the introduction to this edition that he set out to write "love stories... of white-collar Indians," which in practice seems to mean relying on heavy-handed us...more
Andrea
One or two I didn't especially like, though each and every one of them is a pretty great short story. But I loved the ones I loved, and am rather in awe that one person wrote all of them, and the way they play with sexuality and identity and belonging from many angles. The way that people move between worlds and what that means to them, what it does to them. And of course I love the points of view, and the complexity and the absence of charicature and all the things I really hate in a lot of wri...more
Melissa
One notable line: A character says he is Indian, and someone responds, "Dot-on-the-head Indian or arrow-in-the-heart Indian?" I appreciate the window this book gave me into Indian culture as Alexie knows it. However, it seemed that almost every story had some mention of sex or sexual disfunction, and after awhile I started wondering if it was necessary. At one point a character says, "I just want to tell the whole story," and I do think this is part of Alexie's writing, to write everything in th...more
Ronald Wise
Sherman Alexie has been attracting attention for his poetry and fiction since the early 1990s, when he was in his late twenties. This collection of short stories took its title from one of the stories therein, which was originally published by The New Yorker. The most obvious thread in common to all these stories is the presence of Native American characters living in a white-dominant society. The central characters, however, vary in the degree of assimulation, and the objects of their efforts a...more
Trish
Sherman Alexie really kicks ass, doesn't he?

I always approached the tenth most attractive white woman at any gathering. I didn't have enough looks, charm, intelligence, or money to approach anybody more attractive than that, and I didn't have enough character to approach the less attractive.

My feelings are my feelings, said Salmon Boy, they belong to me, and you don't have to worry about them at all.

"What did you do?"
"I broke my heart."
"I didn't realize that was illegal."
"Well," he said. "...more
Daryl
I've read, and enjoyed, most of Alexie's fiction. This collection, however, is probably my least favorite of his books. I was kind of surprised by the amount of graphic sex in the first four stories here. It didn't really fit the Alexie style. When I got to the fifth story, the middle of the book, "The Sin Eaters," I was shocked. Not by sex, this time, but because this story is science fiction. Perhaps an allegory, a metaphor, but it very much left the realm of realism far behind. The last half...more
Lance
I found this collection of short stories about various Native American related themes overall interesting, if only in the idea of juxtaposing related themes on a central topic. Some were definitely better than others. Alexie seems to have a fetish for disenfranchisement by white people and for sexuality, and he seems to have explored every possible outlet of sexuality. Some of the language is terse, and some of the images he draws are downright crude. As a work of entertainment, this book I do n...more
Alcina
I was moved to tears by several of the stories. I was totally surprised as I bought this secondhand book after reading his youth novel, The Absolutely True...which my 12 year old LOVED and which I also though was amazing (buy this book for any tween or teen male). I was not prepared for the sexual turns, the adultness of the material. Which was wonderfully done. I loved his humor and turns of phrase, his gender notes and homoeroticism. Also, noticed my feelings of pain as the outsider... the whi...more
Mrs. Reed
This collection of short stories spans many different genres--realistic fiction, magic realism, sci-fi--all exploring the identity of the American Indian. Some were better than others, but it was one of the most cohesive short story collections I have ever encountered. Alexie uses these perfect little gems to communicate the complicated feelings he has about race and belonging.

I didn't know when I first picked it up that it was a short story collection, and I was a little sad when I figured it o...more
Lisa
It's hard to say anything about these stories, because they're so good. They're delightful in substance, style, and soul. Reading them made me feel that Alexie loves writing and loves intensely what he's writing about . . . I think those are the highest qualifications for a writer. My favorite line came in the last story, where the narrator is standing by the side of the road with his dying father.

"I wanted to ask my father about his regrets. I wanted to ask him what was the worst thing he'd eve...more
Katie
It isn’t easy to describe one of Sherman Alexie’s provocative collections of short stories. Reviews often seem limited to a string of adjectives—touching, funny, angry, passionate, bittersweet, tender, mysterious, magical, vivid and haunting. Real. Suffice to say that he is incredibly skilled at directing human emotions into words, which is no small feat considering most of us can’t even put our own thoughts into words, let alone good words. Really good words, as the case may be. Alexie is the m...more
Cayr
Native Americans are the greatest story tellers. Sherman Alexie is the best of the best. This is the best book of short stories that I have ever read.

One of the things I liked the most about it was that while each story carries some of the same themes of how being a Native American is ironically kind of like being a stranger in a strange land, the characters in each story are all unique and three dimensional. I liked that I was able to hear the voice of a reservation Indian telling these storie...more
Spike
A few good short stories here, but too many clunkers. Some are awful, and were they not written by Alexie would never see print. The title story has a shocking turn of events that seemed unbelievable and nonsensical. Alexie knows how to write well: it's the constant theme of evil whites and poor Indians and how nobody knows 'Indian' like another Indian that becomes annoying.
If you want to see Alexie's skills at their best, I suggest "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part time Indian". Don't let t...more
Phil
Nine short stories by Sherman Alexie. My copy says he was "selected by The New Yorker as one of the best American fiction writers under 40". He is an Indian and he writes about modern Indians living in on and off the "res" in the American North West.

Each story is quite different - from startling to moving. (And in my view, the editor chose to put the startling ones first..)

I quite enjoy reading about people and ideas I have not encountered, and while I only give it 3 stars, it was a quick read...more
Emily White
I read Sherman Alexie’s book of short stories The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight In Heaven some years ago and was expecting The Toughest Indian In the World to be comparable. The Lone Ranger had a simplicity about it that I found intriguing, and I felt like it captured some of the struggles of the modern American Indian. I felt the hopelessness and anger of the characters, and saw the stereotypes that they lived with day in and day out. Toughest Indian operated along much of the same lines, as...more
Emily
An excellent, cohesive collection of short stories. Alexie has mastered developing rich, complex characters in such short narratives.

At the end of each short story, I longed to know more about the lives of the protagonists, other than the few glimpses I had been allowed. Very few authors could get an audience so emotionally invested over the span of several pages.
Ruth
The story that made it into Alexie's film The Business of Fancydancing, "Saint Junior," was fantastic. The scene from the film, where the protagonist faces down the official from the standardized testing service--here called Colonial Aptitude Test!--was just beautiful.
Ruth
Alexie continues to blow me away with his brillant character development and ability to integrate humor and sadness in the shortest sentences. I'm not a huge fan of short stories buy I loved almost everyone in this book.
Ruth
I think he's one of my favorite authors. This book was full of surprises and humor. I'm not a big fan of short stories, but I highly recommend this collection.
Nancy Kampfe
Excellent book! Alexie's point of view is always refreshing and so honest.
Vic
A brilliant collection of stories about the contemporary American Indian. I know, I know, Native Amercian would be more politically correct, but in this case, impossibly out of synch with the tone of these stories.

I think Sherman Alexie is a marvelous story teller. His prose is fluid and easy to digest. His stories charming and heartbreaking at the same time. Poignant, humorous, clever, each main character revealed some aspect of life as an Indian in a white world. Some were professional people...more
Martha
"Sexually speaking, Indian women and men are simultaneously promiscuous and modest. That's a contradiction, but it also happens to be the truth."

That true contradiction is a tidy way to sum up the style of this collection. Promiscuous and modest, tough and vulnerable, stoic and maudlin, elegant and clumsy, smart and naive. And by contradiction I'm talking extremes, no pansying moderation but full-on over-the-top ballsy commitment to both poles.

Maybe it's that contradiction which ties the whole...more
Emma (Miss Print)
"The Toughest Indian in the World" is one of Sherman Alexie's collections of short stories. It comes before his most recent collection ("Ten Little Indians") but before "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" (which features many of the characters who would later appear in Alexie's novel "Reservation Blues"). It is also the first one I read. Unfortunately, I feel like it may not have been the best first choice.

Alexie is a wonderful writer, of whom I am a huge fan. His writings usually re...more
Steven
I'm of two minds about this collection. One mind says that these are fabulous stories, and if I didn't see Alexie's name as the author I'd think it was an impressive debut collection. Very PoMo and postcolonial. Very feminist and gay friendly. Very dominant discourse bashing. In short, the very essence of current political and literary correctness. Guaranteed to be on the top of the multicultural reading list. And maybe deservedly so. With its discussion and paper generating utility, the book ha...more
Matthew Wayne Smith
Sherman Alexie will challenge you. In this collection of short stories, Alexie will challenge what you think about race, sexuality, the politics of education, and many other topics. As a white person, I enjoyed reading a work that made me consider how a modern Native American might view his/her place and situation in the present U.S. Plus, Alexie's writing is at times slightly absurd and crazy (at least it seems that way sometimes, which I believe is intentional).
Lance
The Toughest Indian was my introduction to Sherman Alexie, and I'm completely hooked.

His collection of short stories is at once heart-wrenching and poetic, weaving tales of devastation and healing. Many of the stories are surreal, but all of them are familiar.

Anyone searching for honest depictions of colorism, of class, of colonization, sexual stigma, painful marriages, childhood trauma, or a life lived outside of standard narratives should read this book.
Rebecca Robinson
I love Alexie's voice, and though not every story struck me in a deep manner, the ones that did really struck me. All around I think this is a wonderful set of stories that not only explore being of one identity but also many layers to the human condition. The most moving were the descriptions and journeys through white-Indian relations and how they have haunted this country and the world. I feel more young adults should read his work, as controversial as it is, to better understand the world th...more
Kris
This collection of short stories is a bit of a departure from Alexie's other works. While the stories are still those of Native Americans, this one deals - quite graphically - with sex. I'm afraid that some who pick this up as their introduction to Alexie would never pick up another of his books! And that would be a shame - he is a wonderful writer, and has a lot to say (especially for us 'white folk' I think). But I would not recommend this as your introduction to his work. Read
Catherine
I normally love Alexie. I like that he makes me think, but these stories are way to sexual for my liking. I only read the first one and 3/4 of the second one, and I am putting this book down. I don't want that much sexual information about anyone. I get that Alexie uses the sexual relationship to mean something entirely different, but to be honest, I don't want to slog through sex to get to his meanings.

I'll pass on this one.
Melissa Namba
I enjoyed reading these short stories. Sherman Alexie writes in a clear and accessible manner and draws the reader into the stories without effort. I laugh as I think about the little racist it brought out in me. I work as a cashier and for the last few days, whenever I have had a Native American come through my line, I want to bring up Sherman Alexie and ask all sorts of questions. Now, as an Asian, I have been on the receiving end of these questions and I know no matter how polite and genuine...more
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Sherman J. Alexie, Jr., was born in October 1966. A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, he grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, WA, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane, WA. Alexie has published 18 books to date.
Alexie is an award-winning and prolific author and occasional comedian. Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a modern Native American. Sherman's best known works in...more
More about Sherman Alexie...
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven Flight Reservation Blues Indian Killer

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“He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing.” 411 likes
“If it's fiction, then it better be true.” 60 likes
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