Unfortunately, Tommy Orange is no longer able to attend. We apologise for the disappointment, and hope to welcome him to Melbourne at a later date.
‘We’ve been fighting for decades to be recognised as a present-tense people, modern and relevant, alive.’
Tommy Orange's There There – about Native Americans in Oakland, California – is a noisy novel of paradox, dark humour and soaring originality. It has won its author the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the prestigious John Leonard Prize. In 2018, it made Barack Obama's list of favourite books of the year. In 2019: the Pulitzer Prize finalist list.
There There features a multigenerational cast of Native American characters who converge at the fictional Big Oakland Powwow. Orange, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma, but born and raised in Oakland, wanted to focus on the disparate experiences and struggles of city-dwelling and mixed-race Native Americans in the 21st Century.
Utterly free of nostalgia or sentiment, and shrugging off literary and Hollywood stereotypes, the book is obsessed with questions of identity and authenticity. There There features 'Indians and Native Americans, American Indians and Native American Indians, North American Indians, Natives, NDNDs and Ind’ins, Status Indians and Non-Status Indians, First Nations Indians and Indians so Indian we either think about the fact of it every single day or we never think about it at all.’
At the Wheeler Centre in February, Tommy Orange will discuss fame, fiction and writing America in the present tense.
Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Tommy was born and raised in Oakland, California. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He currently lives in California.
His first novel, There There was published by Alfred A. Knopf in June 2018 and rights have been sold in Brazil, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Korea, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK and Sweden. It was an instant New York Times bestseller and is under option to HBO as a TV series.
Jack Latimore is an Indigenous researcher with the Centre for Advancing Journalism. He is currently involved in the development of several projects aimed at improving the quality of Indigenous representation and participation in the mainstream media-sphere. His journalism work has appeared in Koori Mail, Guardian Australia, Overland and IndigenousX.