There There

Tommy Orange    Pages: 294     Published: 2018

The book: Set in Oakland, California, this is the story of 12 different characters whose lives intersect at the Big Oakland Powwow. Unlike the majority of novels and stories about native Americans, this story focuses on native people living in cities.
The novel deals with multiple themes: the tragic and cruel impact of settlers on native people, what it means to survive and persist, what it means to be native in America today, and what is native culture.

You might like it because: It’s a fast-paced story that’s impactful and engaging, with a clever plot that twists and turns. Orange brings his characters to life vividly and then masterfully pulls them all together for a climatic end.

What did other people say?
“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

There There is pithy and pointed. With a literary authority rare in a debut novel, it places Native American voices front and center before readers’ eyes.” – NPR

Awards & Recognition:
New York Times Best Seller

How quickly will you get into the book? The prologue is a 9-page essay where Orange slams the reader with hard truths, some of which you may not be aware. That got my attention straight away. The fiction starts, and three paragraphs in there was no going back. I couldn’t put the book down.

You might not like it because: The story is told through the eyes of twelve different characters. Some readers may find it hard to keep track of who is who and the changing points of view.

What might you read next?
In an interview in The New Yorker, Tommy Orange mentioned that A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole was a book that made him want to write. Read it for yourself.

In the same interview he mentioned Louise Erdrich as one of the writers whose books he keeps going back to. Read her novel LaRose.

Alternatively, one of the characters in There There expresses annoyance because the film version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest removed the Native American narrator of the book, reducing him to a silent stereotype. Read Ken Kesey’s novel for yourself.

© 2018

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