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There There

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  142,344 ratings  ·  16,492 reviews
Tommy Orange's wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle's death and w ...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Knopf
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Robert Blumenthal So far I've learned in the first 50 pages that it refers to the Gertrude Stein quote about whether or not there is a there there. Orange refers to the…moreSo far I've learned in the first 50 pages that it refers to the Gertrude Stein quote about whether or not there is a there there. Orange refers to the Native American heritage before it was taken over and decimated by the White Man and whether or not it is still existent in the modern day urban Native American life. It also is cited in a character listening to the Radiohead song There There while on the train.(less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Emily May
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, 2018
"Don't ever let anyone tell you what being Indian means. Too many of us died to get just a little bit of us here, right now, right in this kitchen."

Orange's ambitious debut captures the experience of modern "urban Indians" through constantly shifting third person perspectives, ultimately showing that Native Americans are not a monolith, not a stereotype, not united under a single identity.

The author takes a number of risks, and yet they all work to create a book of such extreme power that i
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an ambitious novel told in stories about different Indians in Oakland whose lives converge at a Pow Wow. It took me a long time to get into the novel. When the threads start to come together the novel picks up. There is some great writing throughout. But still... something is missing here. Something isn’t quite working for me. But the ambition and the last lines do a lot to elevate this. Look forward to seeing more from the author.
Elyse  Walters
Update: I’m very happy to learn that Tommy Orange won the PEN/Hemingway award!!!
Congrats!!!n”There There” is an outstanding novel.

Update: Terrific pick!!!! 2018 National Book Award Longlist.... Fiction!!

5+++++ stars!!!!! Absolutely phenomenal!!!!!
“There There” is a non-stop pace story... COULD NOT PUT THIS DOWN....
The stories in here are gut wrenching *intimate* about dislocation-identify-violence -loss-hope-and power.
“We have been defined by everyone else and continue to be slandered despite
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-clubs

I have no idea how to rate this book. Things about it enthralled me and other parts just fell flat. This book started off so strong. The writing in the prologue just grabbed me. I was convinced I was going to love the book. But once the chapters begin, I started to have problems.

You are introduced to 12 characters, each given their own chapter, and initially, I thought the book was a series of short stories. I think the sheer number of “main characters” and all their various stories and viewpoin
Rick Riordan
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tommy Orange's debut novel is already getting a lot of love, but I have to chime in with my praise, too. For one thing, There, There is set in Oakland, where I lived for most of the 90s, and reading it brought back a lot of memories. The author hits us with a buckshot blast of wonderful characters, self-described "Urban Indians," each with his/her own short, interwoven chapters. We follow their interconnected lives as they prepare for the first Big Oakland Pow Wow. They are drawn there for many ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
A solid debut with a surprising climax. As someone who grew up in the Bay Area, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the characters living in Oakland and enjoyed viewing the city through their eyes. This made things closer to home (literally) for me when exploring themes of identity and displacement for modern Indigenous people in the inner cities. While I liked seeing the 12 characters’ stories intertwined with one another and the breadth of sensitive issues like rape, addiction, suicide, dome ...more
Angela M
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Before I even finished reading this, I began hoping that Tommy Orange was already working on his next book. Beautifully written, creatively and skillfully structured with the stories of multiple characters, each one important and affecting on their own, but when meshed with connections that unfold I was blown away. For a short time these narratives seem like individual stories until one by one the characters become connected and their collective story is brutal, honest and sad and powerful. It w
Matthew Quann
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tommy Orange’s There There is, hands down, my favourite novel of the year (2018) thus far.*

If you came here looking for a scale-tipping review, look no further. In fact, imagine me clearing off any weight on the opposing side and planting my considerable heft on the side favoring your reading of this novel. If you’ve ever picked up a book because of my reviews, then trust me: this is one you’re going to want in your hands posthaste. There There is a novel we’ll be seeing crop up on best-of and a
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Any novel that highlights or educates it's readers about a time in history where there was mistreatment of people due to their race religion or beliefs is always worth reading and this book is one of those books. However I am not judging the book on its importance but on how it came across and affected me and unfortunately from page one I didn't connect or engage with either the story or the characters.

There There tells the story of twelve characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
A collection of interrelated stories set in Oakland, California, There There charts the inner lives of twelve Native Americans as they prepare for the impending Big Oakland Powwow. Orange hops from perspective to perspective, weaving together past and present and exploring what life in Oakland means to each Native character. The best of the chapters are highly affecting, and infuse great storytelling with political purpose; they are fast moving and full of well-drawn characters. The book unfortu ...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dene Oxedene, putting his life back together after his uncle's death, wins a grant, allowing him to video stories from those attending the Oakland Pow Wow. In alternating voices we follow the lives and stories of twelve different characters, many who have fallen on hard times of one kind or another. So in a way, these are connected, though the same people appear more than once, short episodes in the lives of those who have lost touch with their culture. This is in most cases through no fault of ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Tommy Orange’s first novel had some promise in the beginning. It looked like he had some interesting things to say and some heavy topics to discuss. He had a lot of characters to introduce and several stories to tell.

He had ideas, but he wasn’t able to effectively put them down on paper. There There just isn’t written very well. It’s pretty sloppy. It takes concepts other authors have pulled off in the past, throws them all out there together and hopes for the best. Hoped for the best. Didn’t r
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Indigenous Immigrants

North and South America are inhabited almost exclusively by displaced persons. The story of each person is unique but their commonality is an experience of lostness often expressed through a sort of transcendentalist attachment to ‘the land.’ Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is My Land’ captures either a hope or an ideology depending on how it is interpreted. But it is also a restatement of Walt Whitman’s ‘Self’ who is the displaced and replanted part that speaks for the the whole
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
A bunch of loosely woven essays on memory of a gross injustice ultimately forming a loose semblance of a plot.

Q: “There There,” by Radiohead… “Just ’cause you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there.” … This there there. He hadn’t read Gertrude Stein beyond the quote. (с)

Rating: We start at 5 stars.
+1 star: for the fearlessness: raising this controversial topic is strong.
-1 star: for the disjointedness. As an innovative and fresh view it worked. As a novel, it didn't. The book is more like a collection
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Massively exciting with what freshness and vitality this emerges from the blocks. The first hundred pages are a joy to read. Fabulous descriptive writing with lots of relatable insights into modern life. I liked its anger and humour a lot. There was a documentary on the BBC a while back that followed a few Indians who are on their way to protest at Standing Rock. I was sad I only got to spend an hour with them. They were all compelling individuals and I wanted more. The thing was though, the doc ...more
Ron Charles
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Toward the end of Tommy Orange’s devastating debut novel, a 4-year-old Native American boy keeps asking his grandma: “What are we? What are we?”

The boy has no way of knowing, but that’s a blood-soaked question that Western invaders have made Indians ask themselves for centuries. Exiled, dispersed, murdered, robbed, mocked, appropriated and erased, Native Americans have been forced to define themselves amid unrelenting assault. Their survival, their failure and their resilience in modern-day Amer
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The novel is exceptional although it is very depressing. I'm not surprised There There has provoked so much discussion with regard to the plight of urban Native Americans trying to rediscover and understand their identity. There There is a definite food for thought! ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This debut is absolutely 100% incredible. Marlon James called it a thunderclap and I have to agree. This might be my favourite read of the year so far. And as is often the case when I adore a book this much, writing a review does not come particularly easy because I want to do it justice without just reverting to hyperboles.

This book is told from 12 widely different perspectives that converge on the Big Oakland Powwow, and also includes some non-fiction parts in between. It is impeccably structu
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-read, 2018-nba, usa
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2019 Finalist
Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award 2019
Winner of the NBCC John Leonard Prize 2018

Aaahhh, what a time to be a reader! First things first: Tommy Orange wrote a fantastic book, it is so strong, powerful, moving and enjoyable, and there's a whole bunch of people you will want to hit over the head with its wisdom (or with a physical copy of the book, for a start). Orange introduces us to more than a dozen Native Americans - men and women, young and old -, all of
Such an important, powerful novel written from the perspectives of 12 Native Americans living in Oakland, California. Through these 12 distinct narrators, Orange shows the heterogeneity within the Native American experience, as these characters face unique challenges ranging from substance dependence, feeling disconnected from one’s culture, a lack of self-worth and job prospects, and more. I loved how Orange addressed the past and ongoing genocide and displacement of Native Americans so head on ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing

If you haven’t heard of Tommy Orange yet, you soon will. This is one of those books that you're simultaneously dying to finish yet don't ever want to finish.

Orange paints a vivid picture in short chapters through different points of view as the story unfolds. The powwow becomes the centerpiece of the story with the dozen or so characters eventually heading toward it. The characters and their storylines drew me in and made me care, though not all are likable. I grew attached to a lot o

This book has like 12 different perspectives, and I swear there's like 4 different forms of representation in each one, and the whole thing is only 294 pages long.

And I listened to it on audio.

All of these things that could have been so HARD-HITTING and IMPACTFUL and LIFE-CHANGING were relegated to like 4 pages.

You know those amusement park rides where you sit in a little car thing that's attached by an iron bar to a big spinny thing in the center and you whirl a
Theresa Alan
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
“Some of us got this feeling stuck inside, all the time, like we’ve done something wrong. Like we ourselves are something wrong . . . We drink alcohol because it helps us feel like we can be ourselves and not be afraid. But we punish ourselves with it.”

I think my expectations going into this novel were too high. I’d read rave reviews and it was nominated for a National Book Award. Orange takes an unflinching look at the ways white folks have abused Native Americans for hundreds of years—and sho
There There, follows twelve people of Indigenous American descent who, without realising it, are all connected and have the same destination in mind: the Big Oakland Powwow, a ceremony where Indigenous Americans eat, sing, dance, and socialise. As the book progresses, you learn more about the characters' past and present, their struggles and feelings, and how their lives are intertwined.

This novel is very well written, and I loved that each character's chapter felt like reading a short story. I
j e w e l s
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Once again, I am at a loss for words--BECAUSE I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!! I was 100% invested in the characters and the story. I'm a closet Choctaw (meaning only that I am an enrolled member of the tribe, but not something I broadcast in my everyday life) and I was beyond excited to read a modern Indian story. Yes, as Orange points out, we refer to ourselves as Indian. It's okay. Don't hate on me.

Watch out for Tommy Orange. He is a young Native American writer and he has someth
J.L.   Sutton
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tommy Orange’s There There is simply amazing! Yes, it’s heartbreaking, but Orange’s multigenerational story of the urban Native American experience is unforgettable. There are 12 distinct voices shaping the story, but they all resonate and feel bound together and drive the narrative forward. Far from confusing the story, each voice adds depth, grief, history and hope. There is also a certain rhythm to these interweaving stories that made this a difficult book to put down; you want to get to the ...more
” Sing it
Hey boy, give your dreams a rest
If you're tired of searching this is where it ends
There's nothing left to lose
Nothing to protest
Learn to love your anger now
Anger here is all you possess.
Welcome to the edge.

“Below the towers of the citadel
Seems someone overlooked the cost.
Forgotten soldier of Paradise
Now Paradise is lost.
Recognition never realized
Salvation lost among the crowd
So tell me here beside the sterile sea
Where is your nation now?”

--The Edge of America, Duran Duran, Songwriters:
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"There There" is not simply a powerful and moving and deeply accomplished first novel: it is the sort of book that even the most veteran novelist hopes to achieve and rarely does. I loved each and every voice in this kaleidoscopic vision of Native life in Oakland today as a pow-wow nears. This is an intense and haunting and absolutely terrific book. ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Trish by: Andrea
This novel references Gertrude Stein’s comment about her memories of Oakland, CA, “there is no there there,” upon discovering her family home was taken down to accommodate an office park. I think the characters in this book would say it differently, that there is indeed something in Oakland, home of the fictional Big Oakland Powwow with which it concludes.

Distinct Indian voices tell a story about their lives, whatever they want to tell and not necessarily to an immediate point. Somehow it all co
Jessica Woodbury
In THERE THERE, Orange sets out his task from the beginning: he is going to write the stories of the urban Indian. These are not the stories of reservation life, they are not the stories of the old ways. These are the stories of conflict, of the search for identity, of struggle with poverty and addiction and loss, of family and community growing despite the concrete.

In these connected stories of Native Americans (Orange, like many Natives uses the term "Indian" throughout the book) living in Oa
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Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California.

Articles featuring this book

Audiobooks are an incredible way to experience stories—a great narrator can use their voice bring the narrative to life in a way that the...
51 likes · 17 comments
“This is the thing: If you have the option to not think about or even consider history, whether you learned it right or not, or whether it even deserves consideration, that’s how you know you’re on board the ship that serves hors d’oeuvres and fluffs your pillows, while others are out at sea, swimming or drowning, or clinging to little inflatable rafts that they have to take turns keeping inflated, people short of breath, who’ve never even heard of the words hors d’oeuvres or fluff. Then someone from up on the yacht says, "It's too bad those people down there are lazy, and not as smart and able as we are up here, we who have built these strong, large, stylish boats ourselves, we who float the seven seas like kings." And then someone else on board says something like, "But your father gave you this yacht, and these are his servants who brought the hors d'oeuvres." At which point that person gets tossed overboard by a group of hired thugs who'd been hired by the father who owned the yacht, hired for the express purpose of removing any and all agitators on the yacht to keep them from making unnecessary waves, or even referencing the father or the yacht itself. Meanwhile, the man thrown overboard begs for his life, and the people on the small inflatable rafts can't get to him soon enough, or they don't even try, and the yacht's speed and weight cause an undertow. Then in whispers, while the agitator gets sucked under the yacht, private agreements are made, precautions are measured out, and everyone quietly agrees to keep on quietly agreeing to the implied rule of law and to not think about what just happened. Soon, the father, who put these things in place, is only spoken of in the form of lore, stories told to children at night, under the stars, at which point there are suddenly several fathers, noble, wise forefathers. And the boat sails on unfettered.” 98 likes
“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.” 62 likes
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