Multnomah County Library announced today that Sherman Alexie will be the Everybody Reads author for 2013. They selected two of Alexie's books: the young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, and the collection of stories, Ten Little Indians.
On Think Out Loud, Vailey Oehlke, the director of libraries for Multnomah County, explained why they chose Alexie: "He's provocative. He's irreverent. His writing is rich in emotion. What better author to choose to generate conversation in our community, especially around issues or topics that may not be familiar to all of us."
On the day that the Everybody Reads announcement was made, Alexie talked about the happiness he gets when young readers, especially "reluctant readers" who are "poor" and "brown" and "male," read his books.
"It means they have a chance," he said. "And it means my book gave them a sliver of light in their lives. Because books are going to save you. If you're a poor kid in this country the only thing that's going to save you is books. That's your only chance. And to have kids fall in love with books of mine, that's incredible."
Multnomah County's Everybody Reads program is funded by the Library Foundation. In January the Library gives away between 5,000 and 7,000 copies of the books and hosts discussion groups across the county. Literary Arts brings the author to town to speak at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and offers 1,000 free tickets to area high school students. Alexie's speech takes place on March 12, 2013.
You can listen to the full conversation with Sherman Alexie on Think Out Loud. Much of it is about his newly published collection of stories, Blasphemy.