Friday, January 23, 2009

Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie: a review

In Seattle, an American Indian man raised by white parents sinks more and more deeply into mental illness. Meanwhile, a mysterious killer is murdering white men, leaving two owl feathers with each body. A hate-filled talk show host stirs the pot of racial tension and more and more violence erupts throughout the city. Several threads are woven into a story that is part mystery and very readable.

This was a book group pick, and it was a great one, as there are so many potential discussion points. The mentally ill and homeless, frequently serving as a backdrop in real life, make up many of the main characters in this story. Very prominent are questions about what it means to be a real Indian, and who has the right to tell their stories. Revenge and retribution, white guilt, co-opting other cultures, and cross-cultural adoption are also very discussion-worthy themes that run throughout the book. But don't be deterred - considering all the ideas jammed-packed in this story, it still very compelling. Once you start it, you won't want to put it down!

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