There There: A novel (Hardcover)
In this is a series of interconnected stories of contemporary Native Americans who live in Oakland, California, the author uses the English language with breathtaking virtuosity to bare the soul of a culture that has lost a great deal of itself, searching for the There that is no longer there. The many characters are all urban Indians -- full-blooded, half-breed, quadroons, sixteenths -- whose families have lived in Oakland for decades, producing college students, drop outs, postal workers, social workers, janitors, unwed mothers, alcoholics, wife beaters, and young men who are trying to make some extra money by robbery. As the characters' stories unfold, the focus of their lives becomes the Big Oakland Powwow, and, as the event approaches, the tension builds toward a denouement that is not unexpected. This is truly an amazing work of literary brilliance that reveals an often-ignored aspect of this country's diverse social history. Highly recommended.— Alice
June 2018 Indie Next List
“There There is the kind of book that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go, even after you’ve turned the last page. It is a work of fiction, but every word of it feels true. Tommy Orange writes with a palpable anger and pain, telling the history of a cultural trauma handed down through generations in the blood and bones and stories of individual lives. He also writes with incredible heart and humor, infusing his characters with a tangible humanity and moments of joy even as they are headed toward tragedy. There There has claimed a permanent spot in my heart despite having broken it, or maybe because it did. I think this may be the best book I’ve ever read.”
— Heather Weldon, Changing Hands, Tempe, AZ
Summer 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
“This is the kind of book that makes you gasp for air because it has gripped you in that spot between your heart and your neck and won’t let go. Orange starts the book by introducing characters who are planning to rob a powwow, and as you begin to enjoy them—start to imagine a happy ending, where parents are found and siblings meet at the powwow, somewhere they can feel like a community—the dread of the robbery builds constantly in the background until it explodes. Orange has brought us a book that really is the cream of the crop—of all the crops.”
— Alice Ahn, Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, NH
PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A wondrous and shattering award-winning novel that follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. A contemporary classic, this “astonishing literary debut” (Margaret Atwood, bestselling author of The Handmaid’s Tale) “places Native American voices front and center before readers’ eyes” (NPR/Fresh Air).
Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. They converge and collide on one fateful day at the Big Oakland Powwow and together this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism
A book with “so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it’s a revelation” (The New York Times). It is fierce, funny, suspenseful, and impossible to put down--full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.
About the Author
TOMMY ORANGE is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California.
“Bravura… There There has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it’s a revelation… its appearance marks the passing of a generational baton.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Sweeping and subtle…pure soaring beauty.”
—Colm Toibin, The New York Times
“A rush of intensity and fervor… Bursting with talent and big ideas… Funny and profane and conscious of the violence that runs like a scar through American culture.”
—Jeff Baker, The Seattle Times
"A new kind of American epic... one that reflects his ambivalence and the complexity of [Orange's] upbringing."
—Alexandra Alter, The New York Times
"Masterful. White-hot. A devastating debut novel."
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"A gripping deep dive into urban indigenous community in California: an astonishing literary debut!"
—Margaret Atwood, via Twitter
“Welcome to a brilliant and generous artist who has already enlarged the landscape of American Fiction. THERE THERE is a comic vision haunted by profound sadness. Tommy Orange is a new writer with an old heart.”
—Louise Erdrich, Birchbark Books
“THERE THERE drops on us like a thunderclap; the big, booming, explosive sound of 21st century literature finally announcing itself. Essential.”
—Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings
“There There is a miraculous achievement, a book that wields ferocious honesty and originality in service of telling a story that needs to be told. This is a novel about what it means to inhabit a land both yours and stolen from you, to simultaneously contend with the weight of belonging and unbelonging. There is an organic power to this book – a revelatory, controlled chaos. Tommy Orange writes the way a storm makes landfall.”
—Omar El Akkad, author of American War
“There There is an urgent, invigorating, absolutely vital book by a novelist with more raw virtuosic talent than any young writer I've come across in a long, long time. Maybe ever. Tommy Orange is a stylist with substance, a showboater with a deeply moral compass. I want to call him heir to Gertrude Stein by way of George Saunders, but he is even more original than that. This book will make your heart swell.”
—Claire Vaye Watkins
"This is Tommy Orange. Remember his name. His book's gonna blow the roof off."
"A symphonic debut...Engrossing... There There introduces an exciting voice."
—Booklist (starred review)
"Commanding...The propulsion of both the overall narrative and its players are breathtaking as Orange unpacks how decisions of the past mold the present, resulting in a haunting and gripping story."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Visceral... A chronicle of domestic violence, alcoholism, addiction, and pain, the book reveals the perseverance and spirit of the characters... Unflinching candor... Highly recommended."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"Kaleidoscopic... In this vivid and moving book, Orange articulates the challenges and complexities not only of Native Americans, but also of America itself."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)