Sherman Alexie’s first Young Adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, incorporates comic strips by cartoonist Ellen Forney, presented as work by the novel’s protagonist and narrator. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Alexie describes the collaborative process involved:

Q: And were the cartoons your idea?

A: Yeah. When I started writing it as a novel, for some reason in the first paragraph, I made him a cartoonist. I sent Ellen Forney, who is a friend of mine, about a page, I think, and I said, “Can you draw a cartoon of this?” About five minutes later, it came back over the e-mail. So she was a part of this five minutes into its creation.

I’m getting angry, though, because people are assuming I had nothing to do with the illustrations, that the press hired her. It was a really collaborative effort. Some of them I dictated, some of them we did together, some of them she did on her own.

The book was recently nominated for a National Book Award, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. The National Book Foundation’s website carries an excerpt.



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