SEATTLE – Sherman Alexie, one of the country’s most prominent authors, issued an apology Wednesday amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I love most deeply,” Alexie said in a statement released to the Seattle Times late Wednesday. “To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologize. I am so sorry.”
Allegations against Alexie have been vague, referring to unwanted advances and inappropriate remarks and to threats against fellow American Indians. They appear to have first appeared publicly in anonymous comments in a January School Library Journal post about sexual harassment in the children’s book industry. The article did not mention Alexie, but the comments thread had at least five anonymous accusations, including one that mentioned him by name.
The Seattle Times reported Alexie’s response in which he did not address any specific complaints but did say he has “no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers.”
Alexie’s critics include author Litsa Dremousis, who tweeted she’d known about the allegations against him for months.
“By my count, there are now over 20 women who are accusing him of harassment,” she wrote.
Dremousis and Alexie have acknowledged that they were in a sexual relationship while he was married.
The School Library Journal’s comment thread also include numerous allegations against “Maze Runner” author James Dashner and “Thirteen Reasons Why” writer Jay Asher. Both have been dropped by their literary agents and Dashner’s publisher, Penguin Random House, cut ties with him. Alexie’s literary agent, Nancy Stauffer Cahoon, has not responded to several requests for comment. Alexie’s publisher, Hachette Book Group, referred questions Thursday to Alexie’s comments. He currently has one future book scheduled with Hachette, the paperback edition of “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir,” which came out last year. The Hachette division Little, Brown and Company will release it as scheduled in April.
Often drawing on experiences from his childhood on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington, Alexie is best known for his semi-autobiographical novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” which won the National Book Award for young people’s literature in 2007 and has become assigned reading for middle grade students nationwide. His more than two dozen books include novels, stories, poetry and “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” winner last month of the Carnegie Medal for nonfiction. He has written openly about the complexity of navigating between the American Indian and white communities and speaks often and bluntly on social issues.
Alexie left Twitter at the end of 2016 “because its negatives increasingly outweigh its positives.” In his final tweet, dated Dec. 31, 2016, he wrote: “My 2017 is gonna be white liberals shocked about white racism & white conservatives denying white racism exists. Just like every other year.”
The allegations have led to online expressions of disillusionment and betrayal from fans and an anguished conversation among booksellers, fellow writers and Native Americans. On Monday, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, posted that it had “received several recent inquiries about Sherman Alexie’s relationship with the IAIA MFA program” and that its Sherman Alexie Scholarship has been renamed the MFA Alumni Scholarship. Last week, the Washington, D.C.-based bookstore Duende District tweeted that it would no longer sell his book, saying it had known of allegations for months and would “not separate Alexie’s work from his actions.”
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