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There There

By: Tommy Orange

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Imprint: Knopf

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780525520375

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On Sale: | Pages: 304

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National BestsellerOne of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the YearOne of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, Time, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe  Winner of the PEN/Hemingway AwardWinner of the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard PrizeWinner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize   Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction   “Powerful. . . . There There has 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   Tommy Orange’s shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to each other in ways they may not yet realize. There is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and working to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, who is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death, has come to work at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil has come to perform traditional dance for the very first time. 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. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, utterly contemporary and always unforgettable.
Told through the eyes of 12 different characters, author Tommy Orange's gorgeous debut novel, "There There," explores the concepts of identity, history and bearing witness through a dazzlingly intricate narrative that marries the personal and the ancestral, all while being painfully honest and compulsively readable.... As the plot unfolds, Mr. Orange masterfully uses his characters � largely of Cheyenne descent � to illustrate the various challenges they experience as they cultivate their individual identities.... What makes the novel so extraordinary is Mr. Orange's understanding of the need to bear witness to the innumerable stories of Native American people, in both a historical context as well as a personal one.... "There There" is a masterful work, and while it doesn't shy away from the darker side of modern Native American life or the destructive potential of human desires, it is, at heart, an optimistic book.
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With his debut novel, There There, Tommy Orange interjects a voice that has been missing from the literary conversation.... The 12 tales unfold and overlap as each of Orange's characters prepares for the Big Oakland Powwow to be held at the Oakland Coliseum. Halfway through the book, Orange pauses to include an Interlude. Like the Prologue, it provides context.... In this tremendously diverse country, is it not our shared experiences that make us American? Orange simply makes the conversation more authentic.
—Christian Science Monitor
The novel is built around a chorus of different voices, each of them struggling with loss and isolation yet moving, sometimes unknowingly, toward connection with one another.... The complexities of his many characters' lives merge into a single channel that races toward the powwow and an explosive, heartbreaking finale. Orange gives eloquent voice to Americans too often voiceless.
—Tampa Bay Times
In this big, noisy novel filled with absences, stray clues, odd traces, Orange has managed to fix his attention fiercely on Oakland as a place of pure stability.... Nothing in Orange's world is simple, least of all his characters and his sense of the relationship between history and the present. Instead, a great deal is subtle and uncertain in this original and complex novel.
—New York Times
Tommy Orange's riveting debut novel, There There, centers the story of "urban Indians" living in Oakland, Calif., preparing for a powwow.... The plot moves forward with incredible tension between these two forces of communion and destruction. Each of the 12 main characters is introduced in chapters that at first read like separate short stories. It's only as they accumulate that the reader notices connections and sees how the past is coming together in the present.... With his electrifying and innovative first novel, Orange is re-engaging American history and re-invigorating the genre. There There is a novel like few others, innovative in form, its characters unforgettable. It is a masterpiece.
—Dallas Morning News
Again and again, Orange — whose prose is electric, alive, who holds sorrow and joy at once in the palm of his sentences — puts his characters in front of reflective surfaces: the screens of turned-off TVs, mirrors, metal on a fence throwing back a distorted fun-house reflection.... An emphasis on stories and the act of storytelling rolls through the chapters.... This is also a novel of pain, of the trauma that's inherited and the pain that's passed along in the blood. And it's a novel about how to dull the pain — with alcohol, drugs, the Internet — and how to heal it — with stories, with song.
—Boston Globe
These intersecting stories --- primarily set in Oakland, California (the novel gets its title from a Radiohead song and from Gertrude Stein's infamous quote about Oakland that “there is no there there”) --- present a rich, varied and, yes, often entertaining portrait of the complexity of contemporary Native life.... Many of the book's short, well-developed chapters could stand on their own, but this is most definitely a novel, as all the plots propel readers toward a groundbreaking powwow at the Oakland Coliseum --- and toward the threat of violence there.
Tommy Orange's “There There” is a startlingly ambitious and moving first novel.... It's a mark of Orange's talent that in a book with a dozen protagonists, each emerges as a fully realized person, with their own distinct ways of talking and seeing the world.... In a novel that is more layered than Sherman Alexie's best fiction and in prose that is as lyrical and humane as Louise Erdrich's, Orange brilliantly evokes the complexity of this “new” community. Sure, he wants to show the struggles people face, but even more he wants to show this community's life.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“There There” has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it's a revelation in a way that's reminiscent of the best of Alexie's early work. In terms of sheer brio and promise, its appearance marks the passing of a generational baton.... What's impressive about Orange's writing isn't its pacing, though a strong current of physical and emotional movement, especially when a story is told through many braided stories, is nothing to undervalue.... It's the close-up work that puts this novel across, however, the quotidian details of blasted lives. That Orange manages to link these details to a historical sense of outrage at how America has treated its native people, in a manner that approaches scarifying essay without dropping over the fence into lecture or sociology, adds to this novel's smoke.... “There There” has its soft spots. At times it veers toward the sentimental; it can lean too heavily on its themes. There are perhaps too many resonant generalities about the importance of storytelling. But the real stuff is here, a sense of life as it is lived, an awareness of the worm inside each bottle of mezcal.
—New York Times
There's plenty of heaviness to absorb in “There There.”... “There There” takes its title from Gertrude Stein's famous quote about Oakland: “there is no there there.” He rightly points out that the line that has long been used to condemn the city is taken out of context and was really an expression of nostalgia by Stein about how her hometown had changed so much that she couldn't recognize it. Ironic in light of the gentrification that's sweeping Oakland, but Orange isn't done.
—Seattle Times
Everything about “There There” acknowledges a brutal legacy of subjugation — and shatters it. Even the book's challenging structure is a performance of determined resistance. This is a work of fiction, but Orange opens with a white-hot essay.... As these individual stories intersect, the plot accelerates until the novel explodes in a terrifying mess of violence. Technically, it's a dazzling, cinematic climax played out in quick-cut, rotating points of view. But its greater impact is emotional: a final, sorrowful demonstration of the pathological effects of centuries of abuse and degradation.
—Washington Post
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