There There

There There

Book - 2018 | First edition.
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"Not since Sherman Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine has such a powerful and urgent Native American voice exploded onto the landscape of contemporary fiction. Tommy Orange's There There introduces a brilliant new author at the start of a major career. "We all came to the powwow for different reasons. The messy, dangling threads of our lives got pulled into a braid--tied to the back of everything we'd been doing all along to get us here. There will be death and playing dead, there will be screams and unbearable silences, forever-silences, and a kind of time-travel, at the moment the gunshots start, when we look around and see ourselves as we are, in our regalia, and something in our blood will recoil then boil hot enough to burn through time and place and memory. We'll go back to where we came from, when we were people running from bullets at the end of that old world. The tragedy of it all will be unspeakable, that we've been fighting for decades to be recognized as a present-tense people, modern and relevant, only to die in the grass wearing feathers." Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame in Oakland. Dene Oxedrene is pulling his life together after his uncle's death and has come to work the powwow and to honor his uncle's memory. Edwin Frank has come to find his true father. Bobby Big Medicine has come to drum the Grand Entry. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather; Orvil has taught himself Indian dance through YouTube videos, and he has come to the Big Oakland Powwow to dance in public for the very first time. Tony Loneman is a young Native American boy whose future seems destined to be as bleak as his past, and he has come to the Powwow with darker intentions--intentions that will destroy the lives of everyone in his path. Fierce, angry, funny, groundbreaking--Tommy Orange's first novel is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. There There is a multi-generational, relentlessly paced story about violence and recovery, hope and loss, identity and power, dislocation and communion, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. A glorious, unforgettable debut"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780525520375
Characteristics: 294 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Orange's There There follows a varied cast of characters, mapping how their lives intersect and finally converge on one fateful day.

KatieD_KCMO Mar 06, 2020

Tommy Orange takes the different versions of each characters "urban Indian experience" and weaves it into one beautiful and intensely emotional tapestry, culminating in their gathering at the Big Oakland Pow-wow. Tommy Orange writes each character as if they are a part of himself. He w... Read More »

"A large cast of interwoven characters depicts the experience of Native Americans living in urban settings. Perfect for readers of character-driven fiction with a strong sense of place." - Abby Johnson, New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, New Albany, IN

“A large cast of interwoven characters depicts the experience of Native Americans living in urban settings. Perfect for readers of character-driven fiction with a strong sense of place.”--
Abby Johnson, New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, New Albany, IN

List - New in June 2018
EmilyC_KCMO May 21, 2018

Spirituality, addiction, suicide, and the complex histories of Native Americans are grappled with as we follow 12 characters to the Big Oakland Powwow. For readers of issue-oriented literary fiction.

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Apr 30, 2021

Great ensemble with some fabulously flawed characters. Recommended!

Mar 19, 2021

Modern Mrs Darcy

Feb 25, 2021

The prologue and interlude were stunning. I loved the part of the book when he mentioned the hors d'oeuvre and fluff. It really made me think. The only thing I didn't like about this book I think was how many characters there were. There probably needed to be that many for the story to have all the parts it had, but I felt like I didn't get really attached to any of the characters, so the big part at the end didn't hit as hard. The spider metaphor was great and I loved how it was like a theme of the book but the book itself was also like a spider's web, with everyone's lives interwoven together. I also love how he has a playlist for this book. Overall: I feel like the prologue and interlude were so good, but sometimes everything else fell a little flat.

Feb 10, 2021

Not a leisurely pleasurable read but an eye opening read that challenges stereotypes of Native American people. Tells the story of a tragedy through multiple points of view in a way that highlights both the connectedness and disconnectedness of a people. The book has an interlude that challenges the reader to look into their family history to see if your family line is “paved with gold or beset with traps”. I did and it was a life changing experience for me that changed the narrative I’ve been telling myself my whole life. Looking forward to the sequel!

LPL_IanS Dec 17, 2020

12 urban Indians are headed to the Big Oakland Powwow each with their own motivations. We learn about them in eponymous segments wedged between essays on American history. Poignant, harrowing, difficult, funny, tragic, eye opening, all the good adjectives. A unique and extremely confident book (let alone a debut)!

Nov 28, 2020

What an incredible, intense reading experience!

This book follows a group of interrelated Native American characters who all converge at a pow wow in Oakland, CA. Each character's story highlights the challenges of being Native American in the United States. There are issues of poverty, addiction, abuse, dislocation, etc. It's storytelling that is both vast and intimate.

Aside from the insights by the author, himself Native American, I appreciated that this book was nontraditional. The stories are about the oft-neglected urban Indians, the ones who are making their lives off the reservation in cities. These are also stories about ordinary people with challenges that are fundamentally human and relatable by non-Indians.

I've read some critiques that there were too many characters. I can see that. Each chapter is from a different character's point of view and only a few have repeat chapters. It could be jarring to get invested in one character's story to then suddenly switch to another's. Nevertheless, I thought that the way their stories converged in the end was pretty impressive, in part because of that authorial choice. By then, the reader has spent time looking through the eyes of every single character affected at the pow wow.

Overall, I really think this book earns its place in the canon of Native American literature. Definitely worth trying out.

Oct 18, 2020

In There, There, the author weaves a collection of stories about fictional Native Americans who live primarily in Oakland into a novel. Each character illustrates various issues that urban Native Americans might face--substance abuse, broken families, joblessness, etc. At first, I thought the book was very much like a Sherman Alexie book, but as I read farther into the book, I realized that was not so. Although some of the themes are similar, Tommy Orange has his own voice. As a group, women also play a larger role than they do in many Alexie books. The last portion of the book, as it comes to its climax, is incredibly intense.

Oct 08, 2020

Occasional brilliance, but overall disappointing in terms of character development and story. I grew tired very quickly of the ghetto language and poor grammar. It is not beautifully written, but it tells the story of urban Native Americans in my local hometown of Oakland, a population we don’t hear from very often. I’m glad I read it but I won’t be in a big hurry to read his next one.

Oct 04, 2020

I've never read anything like this. Fresh, real characters, and Orange builds quiet tension throughout to the climax of the story. How did he do it? It's a knockout.

Sep 21, 2020

I listened to this in the car. It was very well written by the author. The characters are very believable. The story is very educational about the plight of the modern Native people. Also it is very sad and tragic.

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Jan 31, 2019

"She told me the world was made of stories, nothing else, just stories, and stories about stories."

Listen to this companion poem from Billy-Ray Belcourt , NDN Homopoetics

Dec 27, 2018

Some of us came to the cities to escape the reservation. We stayed after fighting in the Second World War. After Vietnam, too. We stayed because the city sounds like a war, and you can't leave a war once you've been you can only keep it at bay--which is easier when you can see and hear it near you, that fast metal, that constant firing around you, cars up and down the streets and freeways like bullets.

Dec 27, 2018

This [forced migration into cities] was part of the Indian Relocation Act,, which was part of the Indian Termination Policy, which was and is exactly what it sounds like. Make them look and act like us. Become us. And so disappear.


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SPL_Shauna Sep 04, 2018

In the years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began its work, Indigenous news has taken a more prominent place in our news cycles. However, not everyone learns best by reading the news, and if you'd rather learn about cultures and the effects of colonialism by reading fiction, this book is a great place to start. It's also stunning literature in its own right, and Indigenous critics have lauded all the many things this book gets right about Indigenous lives.

There There features an ensemble cast of characters whose lives become intertwined around a large Pow Wow coming up in the Oakland area. Despite the number of characters involved in the narrative, each character feels fully fleshed out. The reader quickly becomes drawn into the narrative of the family who moves to Alcatraz to join the Indigenous occupation, a young man growing up with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome who is tugged into gang activity, a woman who flees an abusive relationship and becomes the Pow Wow's organizer, a young boy who yearns to dance at the Pow Wow despite his family's rejection of the craft, and many others. The narratives spiral together toward a crisis at the Pow Wow, with the reader unable to put the book down until everyone's accounted for.

Gorgeously written, empathic and gritty, There There is likely to make many of this year's best-of lists. Don't miss it.


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