I’ve seen various posts about this around the literary web, but I just didn’t have the stomach to get into yet another fraud story. But when Sherman Alexie speaks, I definitely perk up.
Alexie, the creator of what is one of my favorite titles of all time with The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, published an article in Time magazine about Nasdijj, a purported Navajo writer who has recently faced allegations that he is actually the decidedly white Timothy Barrus. In When a Story Stolen is Your Own, Alexie writes that Nasdijj/Barrus’ “lies matter because he has cynically co-opted as a literary style the very real suffering endured by generations of very real Indians because of very real injustices caused by very real American aggression that destroyed very real tribes.”
GalleyCat followed up with Alexie to ask some additional questions. He describes a climate where protests about insincere multicultural writing generally fall on deaf ears. He tried debunking Nasdijj himself, but no one seemed to care. “A friend of mine emailed me to say that the whole thing made her sad because if an Indian of my success and influence can be ignored and/or dismissed by publishers then what does that say for less powerful Indians?” Alexie said.