Tuesday, April 9, 2019

There There by Tommy Orange

There There
by Tommy Orange

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Literary, Native American
Hardback: 294
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
There was an Indian head, the head of an Indian, the drawing of the head of a headdressed, long-haired Indian depicted, drawn by an unknown artist in 1939, broadcast until the late 1939, broadcast until the late 1970s to American TVs everywhere after all the shows ran out.

Zombie sighting:
"You must think I'm pretty despicable, what with me turning into a zombie out here on the couch, killing myself with the drink, is that what she told you?" Lucas said.
-chapter Dene Oxendene, page 36

Fierce, angry, funny, heartbreaking—Tommy Orange’s first novel is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen, and it introduces a brilliant new author at the start of a major career.

There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. 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 has come to the powwow to dance 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 unspeakable loss.

Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with stunning urgency and force. Tommy Orange writes of the urban Native American, the Native American in the city, in 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. An unforgettable debut, destined to become required reading in schools and universities across the country.

My two-bits:

Whoa! Totally engrossing that packs a punch at the end.

This is a contemporary tale of the realities of Native Americans who do not live on a reservation.


* part of the Tournament of Books 2019 (here)


  1. The waitlist for this book is so long! I’m glad you liked it. Hopefully it’ll live up to the hype for me.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. Being Native, I might appreciate this one.

  3. punch at the end? I like the sound of that!

  4. You're right. This one does show a part of America that I'm unfamiliar with.


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