The publisher of two memoirs by Nasdijj, an award-winning Navajo author whose identity has been strongly challenged, said Friday that it would no longer ship his books and would accept returns of copies from book sellers.
“This looks pretty conclusive,” Ballantine spokeswoman Carol Schneider said after The News and Observer of Raleigh, N.C., reported Friday that Nasdijj?s Social Security number matched the number of a white man, Timothy P. Barrus, who had a prior career writing gay pornography.
Doubts about the background of Nasdijj were first raised Wednesday by an alternative publication, LA Weekly, in a story that cited documents and interviews with scholars, Indian authors and his acquaintances and colleagues.
Barrus, 55, could not be located and did not respond to interview requests from the newspaper or The Associated Press. Nasdijj lived in Chapel Hill in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
In a long posting on his blog, http://www.nasdijj.typepad.com, Nasdijj did not acknowledge any wrongdoing, writing Friday: “The real scandal is that the real story of Nasdijj could never, ever be published because no publisher has the courage.” He also referred to Oprah Winfrey , who on Thursday chastised memoirist James Frey for taking extensive liberties with his best-selling “A Million Little Pieces.”
Nasdijj emerged in 1999 with an article in Esquire about his adopted son, a Najavo named Tommy Nothing Fancy, and the boy?s death from fetal alcohol syndrome. The article was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and led to a book contract with Houghton Mifflin, which in 2000 published “The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams.” In 2004, the book was chosen for a citywide reading club in Salt Lake City.
In one interview, he said as a child he was “hungry, raped, beaten, whipped, and forced at every opportunity to work in the fields.”
Ballantine, a division of Random House Inc., broke off its relationship with the author in 2004. Schneider said it was not because of questions about his identity, but she would not elaborate.