“This feels like a beauty pageant… and I’m gonna lose!” joked Sherman Alexie as he approached the podium to address an audience question during the post-reading conversation between him and Sapphire.
This video features the entirety of that evening’s Q-and-A, in which both writers—and in tones both serious and not-so—talked about the relationship between vernacular and standard English, the bleakness of life as compared to fiction, the banning of their books in various communities across the country and, finally, what they would promote as recommended reading were they themselves high-school teachers.
Sapphire’s response to that last one: “I would have them read everything. From Shakespeare to Toni Morrison, from the slave narratives to Sherman Alexie, from the Brontës to Faulkner, from Ice-T to Motown…”
Watch the clip to find out what Sherman said.