Author Sherman Alexie on race, protest, the country’s violent legacy ahead of BookFest St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Author Sherman Alexie on race, protest, the country’s violent legacy ahead of BookFest St. Louis

Sep 22, 2017

Sherman Alexie, acclaimed novelist, memoirist, poet and filmmaker, joined St. Louis on the Air on Friday. The author is keynoting the inaugural BookFest St. Louis, which will take place in the Central West End this weekend.

Alexie is also in the midst of promoting his recent memoir, “You Don't Have to Say You Love Me,” which was published earlier this year.

“I felt a little reluctant to be here, in fact, to come here to promote a book in the midst of all that is happening here in the aftermath of the unjust verdict, but I can be here to support as well, to be something of a traveling spiritual cheerleader,” Alexie said. “I do support Black Lives Matter, I do support the protests here in St. Louis.”

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Alexie said even in the time he’s been here, speaking with people around town, he found St. Louis to have similar issues with race and income inequality that is going on in every city.

“It seems like St. Louis has a more profound problem,” Alexie said. “Talking to folks in restaurants and my driver here, there’s a special degree of animosity here directed toward black folks that I have not seen in other cities.”

Even though he does not plot out his speeches ahead of time, Alexie said he would address the protests and verdict in his speech tonight at the Sheldon.

“The entire country is built on black slavery and the genocide of Native Americans,” Alexie said. “The legacy of this country is violent. This is nothing new. Certainly, because of technology, people like to pretend that racial injustice is new, but this is just a new form of an ancient, foundational disease in the United States. I think with the election of this president, all sorts of these old animosities and hatred have been given new power.”

Kate Haher and Kris Kleindienst, two organizers behind BookFest St. Louis, joined St. Louis on the Air on Friday.
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Alexie said he was drawn to BookFest St. Louis because it is the first year and he wanted to help establish the festival, having visited St. Louis several times before and enjoying his interactions with people here.

Also joining St. Louis on the Air on Friday were two organizers of the festival, Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books, and Kate Haher, executive director of the Central West End CID.

They discussed the different offerings the festival would have on Saturday, when the festival really gets started at the corner of McPherson and Euclid.

Listen to the full conversation here:

Related Events

An Evening with Sherman Alexie
Friday, September 22, 2017
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108  More information

BookFest St. Louis
Saturday, September 23, 2017
10:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Central West End More information

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.