There There

There There

eBook - 2018
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"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. There There introduces a brilliant new author at the start of a major career. 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 honour 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 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 Big Oakland Powwow with darker intentions. 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."--
Publisher: Toronto :, McClelland & Stewart,, 2018
ISBN: 9780771073021
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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liljables Jan 08, 2019

Orange’s prose is completely gripping from page one. Before the fictional narrative begins, the author opens with an essay, providing context for many of the book’s events and images; I found this frame of reference really helpful, since I haven’t read much Native American fiction. Once the narra... Read More »

Longlisted for National Book Award in Fiction 2018.

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Sep 28, 2019

Tommy Orange's novel, "There There," is a novel of tragic beauty woven out of a cast of urban Native Americans living in Oakland, California, struggling to survive on all levels. The novel may make you feel depressed as you read it- Tommy's characters spend a lot of time feeling like frauds and being depressed and making poor decisions in their struggles to live meaningful lives, a great majority of them are trying their best to overcome their circumstances and feeling fake in a white world that seems at every turn against them; make no mistake, "There There" has been written that way, as if to share the burden of the suffering and subjugation of all indigenous people throughout history onto the shoulders of all its readers to lessen the burden of these urban American Indians who have made Oakland their home. As a reader, you cannot help but feel that we get glimpses of the writer through all of his characters, but two characters, in particular, stand out- one a writer in a graduate MFA writing program, Edwin, and the other a budding documentarian and possible film director, Dene. What Dene says about his favorite film "Requiem For A Dream" can be applied to this novel by just substituting the word "novel" for "film", "... what is so good about the [novel], aesthetically it's rich, so you enjoy the experience, but you don't exactly come away from the [novel] glad that you {read] it, and yet you wouldn't have it any other way" (239).

One way to read the novel is as a series of dramatic monologues, full of pathos, and complete with a cast of characters preceding the much-praised, and deservedly so, prologue which becomes lyrical in its descriptions. Thematically, we see the constant search for identity and meaning in the midst of harrowing circumstances, broken homes, emotional and physical abuse, alcoholism, parental abandonment, financial and cultural poverty.

This novel is bound to become a classic and a classroom required reading in public schools; it has all the hallmarks of a teachable classic. It tackles heavy subjects and reaffirms the idea that all of our lives are interconnected and what happens when we fail to acknowledge that fact. The best novels know which questions to ask and to allow the readers to live with those questions, the consequences of those questions.

Sep 24, 2019

I had the great privilege of seeing Tommy Orange welcomed to Tacoma for the Tacoma Reads 2019 kickoff. This book is fantastic, and is the perfect choice for a book to be read by a whole city, especially a city like ours with a reservation right in the middle of it and a long history of urban Indians (and a long history of whiteness and colonialism).

I loved this book even before I saw Orange speak about it. It's complex, clear, unflinching, and lovely. In some ways it’s unselfconsciously and deliberately literary—I’m thinking of the chapter written in second person just because Orange wanted to, just because he was playing around with point of view and had already done first person and several third person chapters—but that’s part of its strength. The American literary canon is full of self-indulgently literary novels by middle-and-upper-class straight white men. Claiming a right to take part in that tradition is part of claiming the right to be seen, for one’s nuances to matter. This book matters.

Sep 02, 2019

A beautifully written story of the connection and disconnection of urban native peoples.

Jul 11, 2019

This fast-paced debut novel tells the story of how 12 Urban Indians found themselves at the Oakland pow-wow. Each chapter tells their heartbreaking stories of what its like to be a native-American today. There were beautiful moments of pause in the book giving backstory to the Indian experience; the "Interlude" especially. I became especially invested in Jacquie whose blood seemed to connect all the characters in the story. The speed at which the last 50 pages move was incredibly gripping and while the big event ended in absolute horror, I did find some sense of peace and resolve with ending. You won't forget a novel like this one.

TacomaLibrary Jun 23, 2019

Tacoma Reads 2019. Read the book. Join the Conversation.

Jun 17, 2019

A brutal, and brutally honest portrayal, told in a mix of first-person, second-person, and third-person narration. It was interesting to discover how the various characters relate to each other and how they converge at the climax. The book is basically realistic, but with an occasional surreal (and horrifying) metaphor (i.e., those spider legs) -- these form counterpoint with the horrific (and intolerable) situations and thrust of the story.

May 13, 2019

There There, the debut novel by Tommy Orange, follows a large cast of Native Americans who live in Oakland, California. Orange does a masterful job of setting up his narrative with a prologue about the history of Native Americans and the power of who tells those stories, whether by white people or others. Then he unfurls the narrative with each of his characters stories like a patchwork quilt weaved with sadness and regret and remorse. All his characters are troubled and, unfortunately for them and the reader as well, there will be no light at the end of their tunnel. The narrative is a dirge, figuratively and literally. It's a heavy story but one that needed to be told and listened to. I think it's important to hear the stories of all Americans, most importantly the marginalized.

Having a happy ending is not a requirement for me but to invest in these characters then have their lives end in the way it does in this novel is like a sucker punch. It's a cheap shot. But these characters' lives are worth reading about. Hope is a powerful subtext; I just wished for a little more of it.

Orange does a curious thing by mixing first, second, and third person narration. His first-person narration is particularly effective, as his characters' personalities jump off the page. The second-person choice even makes sense in the chapter where it's used. But the third-person choice is a head-scratcher. Why offer some of these marginalized characters the power of narrating their own stories then deny some others by using a mysterious narrator? Why not let them tell their own stories? The only thing the third-person narration did was confuse me. Why aren't they telling their own story? Why does Tony speak for himself but Bill doesn't? It's an odd choice and one I'm surprised his editor didn't question. Maybe Orange was showing off like a juggler adding burning bowling pins to his set of rubber balls.

Overall, a good read with some exceptional writing, although the end left a little to be desired. I would give this novel a 3.5 stars.

May 09, 2019

Interesting to follow the progress of most Native Americans people/families through difficult life situations where they eventually converge at the books climax. The author is very creative and holds ones interest to the end despite the the number of characters portrayed.

May 08, 2019

DNF - about indians - boring

PimaLib_ChristineR Apr 30, 2019

In There There, Orange writes of an Indigenous band, "the problem with Indigenous art in general is that it’s stuck in the past. The catch, or the double bind, about the whole thing is this: If it isn’t pulling from tradition, how is it Indigenous? And if it is stuck in tradition, in the past, how can it be relevant to other Indigenous people living now, how can it be modern? So to get close to but keep enough distance from tradition, in order to be recognizably Native and modern-sounding, is a small kind of miracle..." and the same could be said for this novel.

Orange writes a panoply of characters. And actually, if I had one critique it would be that you need to read the book, without interruption from other books, or a couple of the young boys and their relationships get a little muddy. It could be that I had to return the book because of the hold list and check it out again. Regardless, the majority of the characterizations are strong, making nearly every voice unique.

The story centers around an upcoming pow wow to be held at the Oakland Coliseum. And thus the name. I didn't know before reading this that Gertrude Stein was from Oakland and her famous quote that "there is no there there" was about returning to Oakland as an adult. I'm finding it difficult to write this review because it's the type of thing I want to quote big chunks of. The writing is insightful and while it is about the Native community, it is a novel that many will relate to: the ways we respond to trauma, the feeling of disconnect, and a story that culminates in the great fear of the modern age.

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jpainter Jan 31, 2019

"She told me the world was made of stories, nothing else, just stories, and stories about stories."

Listen to this companion poem from Billy-Ray Belcourt , NDN Homopoetics

Dec 27, 2018

Some of us came to the cities to escape the reservation. We stayed after fighting in the Second World War. After Vietnam, too. We stayed because the city sounds like a war, and you can't leave a war once you've been you can only keep it at bay--which is easier when you can see and hear it near you, that fast metal, that constant firing around you, cars up and down the streets and freeways like bullets.

Dec 27, 2018

This [forced migration into cities] was part of the Indian Relocation Act,, which was part of the Indian Termination Policy, which was and is exactly what it sounds like. Make them look and act like us. Become us. And so disappear.


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SPL_Shauna Sep 04, 2018

In the years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began its work, Indigenous news has taken a more prominent place in our news cycles. However, not everyone learns best by reading the news, and if you'd rather learn about cultures and the effects of colonialism by reading fiction, this book is a great place to start. It's also stunning literature in its own right, and Indigenous critics have lauded all the many things this book gets right about Indigenous lives.

There There features an ensemble cast of characters whose lives become intertwined around a large Pow Wow coming up in the Oakland area. Despite the number of characters involved in the narrative, each character feels fully fleshed out. The reader quickly becomes drawn into the narrative of the family who moves to Alcatraz to join the Indigenous occupation, a young man growing up with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome who is tugged into gang activity, a woman who flees an abusive relationship and becomes the Pow Wow's organizer, a young boy who yearns to dance at the Pow Wow despite his family's rejection of the craft, and many others. The narratives spiral together toward a crisis at the Pow Wow, with the reader unable to put the book down until everyone's accounted for.

Gorgeously written, empathic and gritty, There There is likely to make many of this year's best-of lists. Don't miss it.

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