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An Interview with Tommy Orange


Tommy Orange at Rutgers

Join us for our Winter Session Author Talk with guest speaker Tommy Orange as he discusses his Pulitzer Prize-nominated book There There with a moderator, Rutgers English department faculty member, Alexander Dawson.

Orange is an American novelist and writer from Oakland, California. His first book There There was one of the finalists for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and received the 2019 American Book Award. Orange is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts and earned the Masters in Fine Arts. Along with the national bestseller, Orange has written for Esquire, McSweeney’s, Zoetrope: All-Story, Zyzzyva, and many other literary journals.

About There There
Tommy Orange’s shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to each other in ways they may not yet realize. There is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and working to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, who is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death, has come to work at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil has come to perform a traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, utterly contemporary, and always unforgettable.

Orange received the John Leonard Prize in 2018, awarded for an author’s first book in any genre. In 2019, Orange also received the PEN/Hemingway Award, which is dedicated to first-time authors of full-length fiction books, and the American Book Award, denoting "outstanding literary achievement."

There, There also received nominations for various other recognitions, including the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Audie Award for Multi-voiced Performance, and two from Goodreads Choice Awards: Best Fiction and Best Debut Goodreads Author.

About Tommy Orange
Tommy Orange’s debut novel, There There, was a New York Times bestseller, won the 2018 PEN America Hemingway Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California.