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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We finished Tommy Orange’s astonishing debut in tears. There There unfolds as a series of vignettes, introducing us to a large cast of characters; most are Native Americans living in Oakland, a.k.a. Urban Indians. Orange’s writing is propelled by rage and sorrow and sustained by street-smart humor and gorgeous poetry. Suspenseful and unforgettable, this book is one you’ll want to share with all your friends.
Orange's commanding debut chronicles contemporary Native Americans in Oakland, as their lives collide in the days leading up to the city's inaugural Big Oakland Powwow. Bouncing between voices and points of view, Orange introduces 12 characters, their plotlines hinging on things like 3-D printed handguns and VR-controlled drones. Tony Loneman and Octavio Gomez see the powwow as an opportunity to pay off drug debts via a brazen robbery. Others, like Edwin Black and Orvil Red Feather, view the gathering as a way to connect with ancestry and, in Edwin's case, to meet his father for the first time. Blue, who was given up for adoption, travels to Oklahoma in an attempt to learn about her family, only to return to Oakland as the powwow's coordinator. Orvil's grandmother, Jacquie, who abandoned her family years earlier, reappears in the city with powwow emcee Harvey, whom she briefly dated when the duo lived on Alcatraz Island as adolescents. Time and again, the city is a magnet for these individuals. 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.
Stepping outside yourself
Reading this book over the course of months, on camping trips and at home, I had an adventure inside my adventures. Introspective, poetic, irreverent read. as a non Native American, reading about the “native” experience felt more like the “human” experience. I appreciated the multi dimensional tone and my only complaint is that at the end got a little confused as to what character was doing what or what was happening to what. When I read the last page, I felt a wave of emotional response come over me and tears welled in my eyes. Sitting with that feeling was worth reading the whole book. Tragically beautiful.
I'm Struggling to Understand
I was assigned this book for a contemporary voices class on multiple perspectives narrating. While this book is very good at telling a story from multiple perspectives, that's pretty much the only thing it's good at. What I'm struggling to understand is Tommy Orange's thinking. To me, at least, it seems like he threw a bunch of ideas on paper, didn't connect any of them at all, and expected that to prove his point for some reason. The characters' stories in this book are also excessively negative. Like, seriously not a single good thing happens to the characters in this book. This is just unrealistic as, even though life can really be awful at times, it is never all bad and no good, just like how it is never all good and no bad. If we want to get the stories of urban Native Americans out there and heard, stop doing it through people who are this bad at writing. This novel just does a disservice to the community and infuriates me every time I read it. This is seriously one of the worst books I've ever read which is a shame because I have a lot of respect for Tommy Orange.
Fantastic broke my heart
The characters were so relatable I loved the imagery and historical context.