There There

There There

Book - 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 and Stewart, ©2018.
ISBN: 9780771073014
Characteristics: 294 pages ;,22 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Fierce, angry, funny, heartbreaking, There There is a relentlessly paced multi-generational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. A glorious, unforgettable debut.


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WoodneathReads
Sep 11, 2018

This novel tells the stories of several Native Americans living in Oakland whose lives converge at a powwow held in the Oakland coliseum. The large cast of characters are grouped around families and other social groups, which makes it easier to follow the thread of the lives of so many people. A large portion of the narrative focuses on the lives of these characters, and includes reflections on the diverse ways in which Natives have struggled to maintain their identity in a society that has a long and sustained history of attempting to subjugate and erase them. In spite of this being a character-driven novel, I found the narrative to move along quite quickly. This was in large part due to the anticipation of what was going to happen at the powwow. This novel would appeal to readers interested in thought-provoking and character-driven stories, which convey the struggles of those who have been and are still marginalized.
--Brad (WoodneathBrad)

k
krsbozo
Sep 05, 2018

Ah, man, this was a dark piece of work. So much despair, drugs, unhappiness, dissolution. But, I'm glad I read it. I had a hard time keeping all the connections between the characters together, I think because of how the novel was organized.

SPL_Shauna Sep 04, 2018

Complete review available under Summary

s
squirrelee
Sep 01, 2018

I feel like this is going to be a classic. The emotion is raw, the anger is real, but I think there is also some hope woven into the stories. This book moved me , almost to tears at times. A must read!!!

l
lukasevansherman
Aug 12, 2018

"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."
As we reach the twilight of the white male writers (the recent passing of Tom Wolfe and Philip Roth just highlights this.), voices that have too long been left out of the American narrative are finally being heard. Tommy Orange's debut novel follows a handful of Native characters as they all converge on a Pow wow in Oakland. Many of the characters are carrying baggage or scars, whether it's bad relationships, alcoholism, or the history of Native peoples in this country. But the book, while is has intensity and anger, is not despairing. I'll shut up. You should read it.

l
laphampeak
Aug 06, 2018

The premise of the main characters is attending the Big Oakland Pow Wow each with their own story. The author brilliantly delves into their Native Americanism. Orange explores Native identity, violence and struggle in the modern day Oakland. His prose style brings depth to the character's plight. "Something about it will make sense. The bullets have been coming from miles. Years. Their sound will break the water in our bodies, tear sound itself, ....The fact we've been fighting for decades to be recognized as the present-tense people, modern and relevant, alive, only to die in the grass wearing feathers."

b
brangwinn
Aug 05, 2018

Tommy Orange is a powerful voice in Native American literature. He’s chosen a challenging task, that of weaving together the stories of a large cast of characters with connections to Oakland California. These characters all have different stories and he skillfully brings them together at a powwow in Oakland. I wish I had taken notes about the characters because there are so many and each person’s story is different.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jul 30, 2018

Sooooo good...and relevant. Intertwining vignettes of Native American people (mostly identifying as Cheyenne) living in Oakland. Slowly the connections between the vignettes becomes clear as the story builds to a climax at a Pow Wow at the Oakland Colosseum. Eye-opening and heart-breaking. Check out this amazing debut novel!

TSCPL_Miranda Jul 22, 2018

Heartbreaking, eye-opening. Dark and beautiful. There There follows 12 modern-day Native Americans as they reflect on their lives and prepare to participate in, staff, or attend a Powwow in Oakland. Gradually the connections between their lives become apparent, so that the reader sees how they are all connected, whether or not they realize it. Each chapter is from an individual's perspective, so that the reader takes in different voices and experiences, all linked by struggle. As I read, I took screenshot after screenshot of insightful, beautiful language to return to later. This novel made me consider my privilege, and my identity, and the many ways that our country's dark history was glossed over and is still glossed over in public school education. I can't promise you a happy ending here--the book wouldn't be authentic to the people that it speaks for if it were neatly tied up at the end. I do promise, though, that this is a book that will make you think, make you feel, and broaden your perspective. It's worth your time.

w
WoodneathBrad
Jul 12, 2018

This novel tells the stories of several Native Americans living in Oakland whose lives converge at a powwow held in the Oakland coliseum. The large cast of characters are grouped around families and other social groups, which makes it easier to follow the thread of the lives of so many people. A large portion of the narrative focuses on the lives of these characters, and includes reflections on the diverse ways in which Natives have struggled to maintain their identity in a society that has a long and sustained history of attempting to subjugate and erase them. In spite of this being a character-driven novel, I found the narrative to move along quite quickly. This was in large part due to the anticipation of what was going to happen at the powwow. This novel would appeal to readers interested in thought-provoking and character-driven stories, which convey the struggles of those who have been and are still marginalized.

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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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