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There There: A novel by Tommy Orange
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There There: A novel (original 2018; edition 2019)

by Tommy Orange (Author)

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1,587977,373 (4.01)141
"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"--… (more)
Member:ThePerpetualOrgy
Title:There There: A novel
Authors:Tommy Orange (Author)
Info:McClelland & Stewart (2019), 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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There There by Tommy Orange (2018)

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» See also 141 mentions

English (94)  Piratical (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (97)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
This was a good debut novel with richly wrought characters and wonderful insights into the human, and particularly Native American, experience in urban 21st century. It's a sophisticated exploration of the effects of disenfranchisement, poverty, loss, and ultimately the strength of love in all its forms. I know the ending -- or, more accurately, the endings -- were intentionally vague and open to interpretation but I found it unsatisfying. Still, Orange is an author worth watching and deserving of the praise he has received. I'll certainly read more by him. ( )
  EBT1002 | Dec 28, 2019 |
One of those books where the end pisses you off even though you know it was the right way to end it. I will say that this is best read in one sitting as there are a lot of characters and their lives intertwine quite often. ( )
  bookswithmom | Dec 18, 2019 |
There There follows several seemingly unrelated characters as they travel to the Big Oakland Powwow. It’s one of those novels where it’s clear that connections amongst them will be revealed by the end but it’s unclear at the start what they could be. The cast of characters was large but luckily there was a character list at the beginning of the book. I had to refer to it often but I didn’t mind.

Tommy Orange’s mission is to show the reader that there are all types of Native Americans – they don’t all live on reservations. Many are “urban Indians”, that is, they live in cities just like anyone else. However, they experience a sense of disconnection and loss borne from years and years of horrific treatment of their ancestors. Orange conveys this abstract feeling through his characters expertly. I felt like I learned a lot about the modern Native American experience. Though the book is largely character driven, there is a strong plot as well. I won’t say much about it except that the last section left me stunned – it was a gut punch.

This book was a selection for my book club. I think everyone felt like they came away from this book with more understanding of what it means to be a Native American. Although we agreed that as white people, we can never fully understand the depth of what they experience.

There There is Tommy Orange’s debut novel. He is definitely one to watch – I’m looking forward to reading whatever he comes out with next. ( )
  mcelhra | Nov 14, 2019 |
There There is a sad but remarkable novel in short stories by Native author Tommy Orange. The loose plot deals with the lives of several urban Natives who live in and around Oakland, California. When a pow-wow is planned at the baseball stadium, several characters make preparations to attend, but for very different reasons.

The proceedings are a little difficult to follow, especially during the final climactic scenes, so if you plan on reading this, be prepared to read carefully. All in all, a promising debut. Worth reading. ( )
  akblanchard | Oct 16, 2019 |
Like many of the current "hot fiction reads" I am finding the press behind a book is routed in how people want the book to affect us versus how the book actually draws us in and completes the story. As you start reading "There There" you will immediately get the message the author wants us to take with us as we delve into the lives of characters who have grown up lacking a "center" or stability, whether it is due to alcoholism, broken up families, or a myriad of other unrealized expectations or advantages. The common theme are characters searching for their identity, dealing with stereotypes and marginalization based on race, and mostly without community or strong family units until they reach out to find connectivity through their native heritage. How much is due to America's systematic racism that has historically not treated, recognized, and tried to live alongside the native people of this country as a culture that lived and thrived for hundreds of years before the Europeans brought their culture? How much of these character's struggles are due to 300 years of their culture and people being removed from their lands, their heritage, separated, treated as "one culture" when there were many, not give the same rights and privileges of European settlers? These are the things that Tommy Orange introduces and leads us through in the character's and this stories. Unfortunately, the ties and prevailing "driving action" of the story is loosely and confusingly woven through their stories and we are left with a tangled mess and a lot of loose (and cut) threads. Did the author intentionally leave us with no satisfaction, no hope, no stories fulfilled to completely understand the plight of these people? Maybe. Sorry, only 3 stars for me because how many times I had to reread, listen, and read many summaries to connect and keep track of the stories. ( )
  kglattstein | Oct 9, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Characters here do not notice connections that might offer meaning even though they tell endless details. For those of us who may want literature to confirm human journeys, (or even reject them), this is boring stuff.
 
There There signals an exciting new era for Native American fiction. Orange lends a critical voice that at once denudes the reality of cultural genocide while evoking a glimmer of encouragement.
 
The network of characters in There There proves dizzying, but the multivocal nature of the book is a purposeful, intelligent strategy. It offers a glimpse of an interconnected life, a world in which small stones don’t just sink to the bottom of the sea but change tides.
 
This is a trim and powerful book, a careful exploration of identity and meaning in a world that makes it hard to define either.
 
The idea of unsettlement and ambiguity, of being caught between two worlds, of living a life that is disfigured by loss and the memory of loss, but also by confusion, distraction and unease, impels some of the characters, and allows the sound of the brain on fire to become dense with dissonance. Orange’s characters are, however, also nourished by the ordinary possibilities of the present, by common desires and feelings. This mixture gives their experience, when it is put under pressure, depth and a sort of richness.
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orange, Tommyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Huisman, JettyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.
--Bertolt Brecht

How can I not know today your face tomorrow, the face that is there already or is being forged beneath the face you show me or beneath the mask you are wearing, and which you will only show me when I am least expecting it?
--Javier Marias

Dedication
For Kateri and Felix
First words
The Drome first came to me in the mirror when I was six. Earlier that day my friend Mario, while hanging from the monkey bars in the sand park, said, Why's your face look like that?"
Quotations
Just like the Indian Head test pattern was broadcast to sleeping Americans as we set sail from our living rooms, over the ocean blue-green glowing airwaves, to the shores, the screens of the New World.
Plenty of us are urban now. If not because we live in cities, then because we live on the internet. Inside the high-rise of multiple browser windows. They used to call us sidewalk Indians. Called us citified, superficial, inauthentic, cultureless refugees, apples. An apple is red on the outside and white on the inside. But what we are is what our ancestors did. How they survived. We are the memories we don’t remember, which live in us, which we feel, which make us sing and dance and pray the way we do, feelings from memories that flare and bloom unexpectedly in our lives like blood through a blanket from a wound made by a bullet fired by a man shooting us in the back for our hair, for our heads, for a bounty, or just to get rid of us.
They took everything and ground it down to dust as fine as gunpowder, they fired their guns into the air in victory and the strays flew out into the nothingness of histories written wrong and meant to be forgotten. Stray bullets and consequences are landing on our unsuspecting bodies even now.
...we know the smell of gas and freshly wet concrete and burned rubber better than we do the smell of cedar or sage or even fry bread—which isn’t traditional, like reservations aren’t traditional, but nothing is original, everything comes from something that came before, which was once nothing. Everything is new and doomed. We ride buses, trains, and cars across, over, and under concrete plains. Being Indian has never been about returning to the land. The land is everywhere or nowhere.
This there there. He hadn’t read Gertrude Stein beyond the quote. But for Native people in this country, all over the Americas, it’s been developed over, buried ancestral land, glass and concrete and wire and steel, unreturnable covered memory. There is no there there.
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Book description
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. Amazon
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