There There

Gertrude Stein famously noted the fact that, returning to her childhood home in Oakland, California after many years away, the place no longer existed, writing, “There is no there there.” The famous phrase has been deployed and repurposed continually ever since by invaders and occupiers, land thieves and urban removal managers, gentrifiers and hipsters to justify thievery and appropriation: “There was no there there.”

Now Tommy Orange, a brilliant young writer and registered member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, reimagines the phrase, resists its many aggressive misinterpretations, and rebuilds its meaning in a powerful new novel, “There There.” Orange creates a dozen entirely compelling, complex, and wildly diverse urban Native Americans drawn together for the Big Oakland Powwow. Along the way each character feels the urgent press of a living history, deep memories of the attempted genocide and untold loss, but also the inheritance of resistance and the redemptive power of community. Tommy Orange reminds us that there always was a there there, and the people who are there are living and loving still.

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