After months of anticipation, we are excited to announce that the 2023 One Maryland One Book selection There There by Tommy Orange. There There wonderfully captures this year’s theme of Connection. The novel that follows the stories of twelve Native people as they converge on the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they do not know.
Some characters come to the powwow with the best of intentions, like Dene Oxendene, a young local documentary filmmaker who is recording the oral stories of other Native persons for a project in memory of his uncle, or Jacquie Red Feather, a substance abuse counselor who is herself newly sober, looking to connect with family at the powwow. Others feel the weight of what’s come before them—like Jacquie’s half-sister Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield, who is raising three of Jacquie’s grandsons. One of them is Orvil Red Feather, a fourteen-year-old who is deeply proud of his Native heritage and intends to perform traditional dance at the powwow. Then there are Octavio Gomez and Tony Loneman, drug dealers who hatch a plan to rob the cash prize of the powwow. As all of these characters and more arrive at the powwow, each will be forever changed by the connections they make and the events that unfold.
There There’s release in 2018 brought it and its author so many accolades that it would be quite the challenge to list them all here. It was named “One of the Best Books of the Year” for several publications including The Washington Post, NPR, Time, and The Boston Globe, among many others. Colm Toibin raved about There There for the New York Times with the headline: “Yes, Tommy Orange’s New Novel Really Is That Good,” rounding out his review by saying: “Nothing in Orange’s world is simple, least of all his characters and his sense of the relationship between history and the present. Instead, a great deal is subtle and uncertain in this original and complex novel.” There There was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist and longlisted for the National Book Award.
We at Maryland Humanities understand the impact that such a novel can have on its readership. We encourage readers across the state to read There There and lookout for the accompanying programs that are happening in their communities. This book will continue to amaze and make those aware of the modern Native American experience.
You can purchase a copy of There There through Maryland Humanities’ Bookshop.org site.
You can read an excerpt of the opening pages to There There online or listen to the audiobook recording here: