Whitman College’s annual Summer Read Program offers new students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the College’s academic culture during orientation.
This year’s selection is “Reservation Blues” by Sherman Alexie, one of America’s most widely recognized and award-winning authors. Recipient of an American Book Award, National Book Award for Young People, Odyssey Award for audiobooks and a PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction writing, Alexie writes from his experiences as a Native American with ancestry of several tribes, having grown up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
The book is a fictional tale of a reservation blues band, its members and their life on the reservation and travels in touring and performing in clubs throughout the Northwest. Using magical realism and portrayals of reservation life drawn from his own youth, Alexie depicts the struggles that band and tribal members have with alcoholism, poverty, racism, political corruption and abuse. He “catches the ancient and the contemporary, the solemn and the self-mocking, at once; he evokes dreary days of watching black-and-white television reruns in a place where … ‘Indian Health only gave out dental floss and condoms.’ … He creates stinging commentary and he shows his determination to make you uncertain whether you want to laugh or cry.” (NYTimes, July 16, 1995)
To learn more about Sherman Alexie and "Reservation Blues," visit the Summer Read Program page »