There There by Tommy Orange
There There is a hard-hitting novel exploring the lives of twelve urban Native Americans in the weeks leading up to the Big Oakland Powwow. The pieces come together as their stories intertwine and we learn what draws each character to the powwow and to each other. For some it’s a shot at the large cash prize, and for others it’s a chance to reconnect with forgotten pasts.
In an interview, the author emphasized wanting to write a book that was not just about Native Americans, but for Native Americans. We often think of Native Americans in connection to the land whether ancestral or on reservations. At a time when more and more people are living in cities, there isn’t much in the canon to reflect this change. That leaves a lot of people out there who don’t see themselves reflected in the books and literature available. This is something Orange recognizes and hopes to change through his writing.
What I liked in particular about this book was the author's ability to set the story in motion, so the reader could work out what happens in the end on their own. In this way, the story doesn’t weigh itself down. It’s a mark of a deft writer and I can’t wait to see what he does next.