Published March 6, 2018
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on NPR.
Writer Sherman Alexie last week issued a statement admitting he “has harmed” others, after rumors and allegations began to circulate about sexual harassment. Without providing details, Alexie said “there are women telling the truth,” and apologized to the people he has hurt. Now, some of those women have come forward to speak to NPR about their experiences with him.
Alexie may not be a household name, but he is one of the country’s best known Native American poets and writers, with a charismatic personality and a large following. He won the National Book Award in 2007 for his young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, and wrote the screenplay for the film Smoke Signals, based on one of his stories. So the news about him has rocked the worlds of both Native American and children’s literature.
In those circles, “well, he’s a rock star,” says children’s book author Anne Ursu. After the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment story broke, Ursu decided to survey women in the children’s book business to see if they too had experienced such problems — just as many media companies, including NPR, have. Ursu’s story, which she published in February on the website Medium, contributed to the whisper of sexual scandal that was already building around some well-known authors — including Alexie. Ursu says some of the most popular kids’ book writers used the power of their celebrity to seduce women.
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