ONE OF THE 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
WINNER OF THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, Time, O, The Oprah Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Globe, GQ, The Dallas Morning News, Buzzfeed, BookPage, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLER
Tommy Orange’s “groundbreaking, extraordinary” (The New York Times) There There is the “brilliant, propulsive” (People Magazine) story of twelve unforgettable characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day. It’s “the year’s most galvanizing debut novel” (Entertainment Weekly).
As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow—some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent—momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything. 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 will to perform 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 loss.
There There is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. It’s “masterful . . . white-hot . . . devastating” (The Washington Post) at the same time as it is fierce, funny, suspenseful, thoroughly modern, and impossible to put down. Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. Tommy Orange has written 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. This is the book that everyone is talking about right now, and it’s destined to be a classic.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
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.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE LINEAR STORY
Gotta give the author credits for his originality and ambition. He wrote a book about a virtually unexplored experience- contemporary urban Native American life- and did it from multiple (and I mean MULTIPLE) perspectives.
But he bit off more than he could chew. The novel could have been just as stirring with 1/3 fewer words. No protagonist in this story, which isn’t necessarily a problem. But with regard to characters, the author chose quantity over quality: way too many characters, and none of them fully developed.
This book took me months to “get through”, as opposed to “hours to devour”. Only in the final chapter was there anything close to an actual pacing.
The author has a commanding, lyrical writing style. Flawed, but impressive and ambitious first novel.