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The Toughest Indian in the World

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  4,797 ratings  ·  265 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."

In these stories, we meet the kind of American Indians we rarely see in literature -- the kind who pay their bills, hold down jobs, fall in and out of love.

A Spokane Indian journalist transplan
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 AlexieBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
20th out of 527 books — 504 voters
Dwellers of Ahwahnee by Sheryl SealBeyond Bridalveil Fall by Sheryl SealBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealBeyond the World of Man by Sheryl SealThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
Native American Authors
18th out of 191 books — 124 voters

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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
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. "
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
Outstanding, just like all of Alexie's other work I have (and will continue) to read. I won't add much more as I've written volumes about Alexie's wonderful exposition of what it 'means' to be 'Indian' and the concept of race and how it divides. A fantastic collection of short stories.
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
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
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
Susanna Rose
"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
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
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
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
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
This was a wonderful read, a truly excellent collection of short stories. I think I'm about a third of the way through his repertoire and so far this one is my favourite. Every story has the perfect mix of humour, poignancy, and edge. One of them, The Sin Eaters was absolutely heartbreaking and interestingly enough, a shift in genre! Nothing about this collection was predictable and the characters especially opened up a bit more of the Indian world to me.
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
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
A tough read- but awesome. The problem with Sherman Alexie is that he is writing the stories the average native lives. I love it when a white person comes up to me whose read Alexie and says "You're and Indian, you must love Alexie!" Well, not exactly. I would say Alexie is more the exception rather than the rule. Not to say that hes not important. At least someone is telling our stories. But some of our stories are filled with so much pain that even we can't make sense of them, let alone the av ...more
More Sherman short stories, I think this is my favorite form of his work. I like how he creates characters that sometimes overlap into his other stories, they are like old friends, even like family. There was one particular story in this book that affected me because I felt my life was in these pages and it scared me a little. Sherman said in a speech in March that people often tell him how his books have affected them and I have to say some details in this story seemed eerily personal and I wan ...more
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
Paul Cockeram
Sherman Alexie is a bigot and a prophet and a warrior and a poet. His stories don’t so much predict the future as they explain the present. Suggesting how the past got us here, these stories go on to erase all conclusions about the past and then make more and then erase those, too. As a writer Alexie is sometimes frustrating but most of the time intriguing, both of these effects due to the way he brings together ideas that have no logical or obvious connection. In this way Alexie is a master of ...more
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.
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.
Yes. This. Alexie has this really amazing way of pointing out race without making you feel yucky about it. Even really hard, terrible, historical trauma that creeps its way insidiously into the everyday lives of Native and non-Native people alike. Alexie says, "Hey, look at that. Acknowledge it. What happens now is up to you. But don't blink. Don't look away." and amazingly, you don't want to.

Beyond that, the writing is really enjoyable, refreshing, and reflects a wide range of folks. Lots of re
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.
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.
I really, really did not enjoy this collection. Almost every story features sex as some plot element. If this was supposed to be a themed collection, a subtitle on the cover or a mention in the flap would have been nice to deter those with no interest in the subject =\ as it was a lot of the stories in this felt pretty samey, like the same characters in slightly differently arranged situations. I found it almost impossible to connect with the characters and their struggles, maybe it's because I' ...more
Michael Brockley
Be it poetry, short story or novel, Sherman Alexie is a warrior writer. THE TOUGHEST INDIAN IN THE WORLD is a collection of eight short stories that rank among some of the finest short story collections written in the English language. Writing with equal parts of humor, rage and archetypal insights, Alexie spins parables of race and love and oppression that keep the reader riveted to the plight of people who persevere. Reading Alexie is like taking a road trip through the Indian dreamscape, a jo ...more
Nancy Kampfe
Excellent book! Alexie's point of view is always refreshing and so honest.
Richard Jespers
Very strong collection. Author Fred Leebron once said he writes about that which pisses him off. So, too, Mr. Alexie. His last story in this collection, “One Good Man,” made me both laugh (when narrator challenges pompous white professor at WSU) and cry (caring for dying father near end of story). These stories are set up in a fine kind of rhythm, and Alexie emphasizes several themes throughout: hate but tolerance of the white man, anti-alcohol (breaking stereotype of drunken Indian), pansexuali ...more
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
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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 about Sherman Alexie...
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“He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing.” 601 likes
“If it's fiction, then it better be true.” 73 likes
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