Sherman Alexie to speak in Chestnut Hill this week

Sherman Alexie, author of The Toughest Indian in the World and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, will be visiting the Chestnut Hill Library for a discussion of two of his works on March 17 at 11 a.m.

The event is one of the final stops Alexie will make over a two-day period as part of the “One Book, One Philadelphia” program. It was announced later than others because of a last minute scheduling rearrangement.


One Book, One Philadelphia

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“One Book, One Philadelphia” began in 2003 and has brought a diverse selection of authors, such as Timothy O’Brien (The Things They Carried) and Dave Eggers (What is the What), to the city.

The program encourages readers across the city to read the same books in an attempt to foster discussions on diverse topics.

“One of the goals…is to get people to read things they might never pick up,” said Margaret Brunton, branch manager of Chestnut Hill Branch of Free Library of Philadelphia. “It expands their horizons.”

“The program’s official mission is to promote library reading and community discussion through a single book,” said Sara Strickland, project coordinator at One Book, One Philadelphia.


Two Books, One Philadelphia

In past years, authors were usually selected for a single work geared toward one of three age groups. Alexie has become part of a trend started last year with author of The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi, in which more than one of the authors’ works was selected to represent both the mature and younger age groups.

Alexie’s featured works will be War Dances and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, for the mature and younger audiences, respectively. Like most selected authors, his books were chosen for literary merit and because they deal with unique perspectives.


Sherman Alexie

Alexie was born on and spent most of his young life on a Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington, an aspect of his life that is prevalent in most of his writing.

“It has to lend itself to a wide variety of programs,” Strickland said of any book that is chosen.

The One Book, One Philadelphia program generally lasts about two months, Strickland said. Besides bringing authors to the city, it also hosts other events such as discussions, readings, and children’s art and crafts that are related to selected books.

As part of this year’s events, screenings of the films Smoke Screens and The Business of Fancydancing were shown, two films written by Alexie. In all, 114 events have been hosted for the One Book, One Philadelphia program.

Brunton is unsure of how many people will show up. “It’s an unusual time (during the day) for some people,” she said. The library’s meeting room has a capacity of 110 people.

The discussion is expected to run about an hour, but no itinerary is in place. “He’s a very gifted speaker,” said Brunton. “We’d like to talk about some of the specifics in the books.”

The Chestnut Hill Branch of the Free Library is located at 8711 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118. 215-685-9290

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