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. His Festival book, There There, was recently longlisted for the Center of Fiction’s First Novel Prize. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. Born and raised in Oakland, he currently lives in Angels Camp, California.
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Reviews on There There:
- “His novel is about urban Indians, about whom he writes, in his bravura prologue, ‘We know the sound of the freeway better than we do rivers, the howl of distant trains better than wolf howls, we know the smell of gas and freshly wet concrete and burned rubber better than we do the smell of cedar or sage or even fry bread’” – In the New York Times
- “Tommy Orange’s debut novel, There There, should probably be on reading lists for every creative writing program in this country. It is a master class in style, form and narrative voice” – In the Globe and Mail
Interviews and Articles:
- “It traces a dozen characters, each on their own personal journeys, before bringing them together for the big Oakland Powwow: a community gathering which wraps up There There‘s many stories in alternately touching and heartbreaking fashion” – In Entertainment Weekly
- “I was in my 20s and also searching for meaning,” he says. “And I wasn’t a reader, so fiction was a super novel thing for me, and the novel itself was. And I just fell in love with it” – In NPR
The Big Oakland Powwow draws people from near and far with different motivations: Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene has come to work at the powwow to honour his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather, who taught himself traditional Indian dance via YouTube and will perform for the first time. There will be glorious communion and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, heroism, and unspeakable loss. Fierce, angry, funny, and heartbreaking, There There is a relentlessly paced multi-generational story about violence, recovery, memory, and identity.