There There

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Save the Date for an extremely special event at the Manchester Center, Vermont store on June 9 at 6:00 pm. It will be a true literary event when we welcome debut novelist, Tommy Orange, to the store. His novel, There There, is that rare book that has gained widespread consensus adoration from the Northshire staff. You will be hearing about this book all summer. Here's what we think:

 

Tommy Orange has written a brutal and beautiful novel about the Native American experience in contemporary America that will open eyes and minds. It will simultaneously break and expand hearts. Most readers will not have encountered a voice like his or a story like this. This is a story about Native Americans who strongly identify with their tribes. But they do not live on federal lands in South Dakota or other western states. This is a story about the urban Native American experience. The setting is Oakland. The many characters and plot lines weave their way to a final destination at an annual powwow in Oakland. I have never read anything like it. Orange’s writing is confident and utterly original. It seems impossible that this novel is his first. Sometimes--rarely—you feel privileged to have encountered a novel. There There is that rare novel. -Stan Hynds

The difficult lives of members of the Native American community in Oakland, California reflect the struggle of the race throughout the history of the United States. This is a literate, sober examination of the generational devastation caused by a country that once beckoned strangers into its welcoming arms while systematically and cruelly marginalizing the people who were truly native to it. An impressive debut novel recounting a contemporary Trail of Tears that culminates in a tragedy that is all too familiar in America today. -Alden Graves

In a word, blistering. Truth-telling is another. Heart-rending or soul-rending would be a verb for Tommy Orange who has the ability to shock and shatter and yet make the reader laugh with his dark humor too. There There is a haunting weave of stories, the reality of “there” is being nowhere. There There is the telling of the grit and the girth of the urban life of native peoples. Alexie, Erdrich and Nerburn have company on my bookshelf now with the arrival of Tommy Orange. -Maeve Noonan

This impressive debut novel weaves an unflinching and provocative portrait of the challenges that face urban Native Americans today. Told through an assemblage of character studies, There There links together the experiences of multiple generations to show how small instances of erasure and elision become quite tangible over time—in this case, taking the shape of an incomprehensible tragedy in the novel's stunning conclusion. -Aubrey Restifo

- Stan Hynds

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