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Not since James Baldwin has a writer come laden with as many critical laurels or a bigger chip on his shoulder than poet-novelist Sherman Alexie. Like Baldwin, who created fierce expositions on African-American subjugation, Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, has written about life on the “rez” with an unflinching eye and a keen wit. “I’ve heard it said that Indians shouldn’t become involved in high-stakes gambling because it tarnishes our noble heritage,” Alexie wrote in a 1994 essay. “Personally, I believe in the nobility of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” He also wrote the screenplay for the movie Smoke Signals, and his story, “The Toughest Indian in the World,” was a 2000 National Magazine Award nominee. Oprah hasn’t called, but a cover sticker on the book of the same title certifies that the New Yorker has named him “one of the best American fiction writers under 40.” Jonathan Franzen: Eat your heart out. Alexie reads at 8 p.m. at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. $25. (202) 544-7077. (Annys Shin)