The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

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Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is Sherman Alexie’s first full-length work of fiction. His previous books, all published between 1991 and 1993, consist of two volumes of poetry and two books of poems mixed with short prose pieces. His conversational style and major themes are common to all of his work, and even some of the characters in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven are introduced in earlier books.

Alexie’s concern with the issues of contemporary Native Americans—their search for identity in modern America and their often ambivalent feelings about their disappearing traditional culture—places him in the mainstream of Native American fiction at the close of the twentieth century. Though this genre has emerged as a significant literary force only since the 1960’s, Indian writers are working with and against a heritage of thousands of years of oral literature. The structure of this traditional literature was quite different from the European tradition into which...

(The entire section is 325 words.)