'There There' by Tommy Orange is Here Here

2 minute read
Tommy Orange's 'There There' was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize. (Photo by Elena Seibert)
Tommy Orange's 'There There' was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize. (Photo by Elena Seibert)

The Free Library of Philadelphia will kick off the 18th season of One Book, One Philadelphia with A Conversation with Tommy Orange at the Parkway Central Library. Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho) is the author of There There, a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and the 2020 selection for One Book, One Philadelphia. The novel also received a 2019 American Book Award, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, and the California Book Awards’ Gold Medal for First Fiction.

There There shares its title with a 2003 song by Radiohead and also references Gertrude Stein. In Everybody’s Autobiography (1937), Stein described returning to her childhood home in Oakland and finding “no there there.”

A place to belong

Place, home, and belonging are themes in There There, which follows a dozen characters through their lives in Oakland, California, to portray the diverse experiences of Urban Indians, Native people living in cities. The people are unique, with individual challenges and circumstances, yet they all must navigate being what Orange terms “ambiguously nonwhite” in a nation that conceals, sanitizes, or denies centuries of violence against Indigenous people.

In October 2019, The Nation published a letter to Marlon Brando which Orange wrote from the perspective of a character in There There, about Brando’s 1973 boycott of Academy Awards in protest of Hollywood’s treatment of Native people.

A Conversation with Tommy Orange will include a performance by the Red Blanket Singers, as well as a performance of an original work by Curtis Institute of Music composer Elise Arancio. A book signing will follow the event.

What, When, Where:

A Conversation with Tommy Orange at Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street, at 7:30pm on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. Admission is free. Find out more online.

The Parkway Central Library offers wheelchair access.

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