Reviewing for The New York Times, Frederick Busch wrote "there is not enough structure to carry the dreams and tales that Mr. Alexie needs to portray and that we need to read. His talent may be for the short form. But the talent is real, and it is very large, and I will gratefully read whatever he writes, in whatever form." Verlyn Klinkenborg, writing for the Los Angeles Times noted "Alexie has been called a lyrical writer, but to call him that is to miss how deadpan he really is, how much his humor depends on saying what hurts in a matter-of-fact voice."
Reservation Blues was awarded an American Book Award (by the Before Columbus Foundation) and the Murray Morgan Prize.