“A great teacher once gave me bad writing advice: retiring your ambitions, he said, is the key to a successful novel. Then I read There There by Tommy Orange, this wild voice, this ringing in space and time, and the world was made both strange and clear. Tommy Orange is a world-builder and world-eater, a Galactus of sorts. He has retired nothing. Here he is, shouting his ambition. There There is a novel with twelve different perspectives, twelve Native voices, through which Tommy Orange occupies every facet of the Native American diaspora: what it is to be an Urban Indian, to reconcile with fractured identity. To reconcile with a horrific history/horrific present of violence and gross betrayal. Here you are, looking for Tommy Orange, though perhaps you didn't know it.”
Fierce, angry, funny, heartbreaking—Tommy Orange’s first novel is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen, and it introduces a brilliant new author at the start of a major career.
There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.
Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with stunning urgency and force. Tommy Orange writes of the plight of the urban Native American, the Native American in the city, in a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. An unforgettable debut, destined to become required reading in schools and universities across the country.