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Spotlight on Identity: Tommy Orange
Keynote Address, SM Writer's Conference, Thursday, Feb 13

Tommy Orange’s debut novel, entitled There There, was shortlisted for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. It won the 2018 National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize For A First Book By A New Voice and the 2019 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. It has earned nearly unanimous critical acclaim, sparked conversations about representation of Native Americans in literature and entertainment, and been optioned for a screen adaptation.

Orange holds an MFA degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts. The son of a white mother and Native father, he was born and raised in Oakland, California, the site of his novel. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

A departure from many of the most familiar and influential Native writers, whose works are often set on reservations, There There portrays an array of city-dwelling Native people, including a teenager who secretly teaches himself to powwow dance by watching YouTube videos, a reclusive internet addict, a recovering alcoholic coming to grips with the effects of leaving her family, an MF Doom fan marked by fetal alcohol syndrome, and a crew of young men armed with 3D-printed guns who hatch a cruel heist, among others.

Canadian writer Margaret Atwood praised his debut novel as “an astonishing literary debut.” Egyptian-Canadian novelist and journalist Omar El Akkad wrote this about the book:

“There There is a miraculous achievement, a book that wields ferocious honesty and originality in service of telling a story that needs to be told. This is a novel about what it means to inhabit a land both yours and stolen from you, to simultaneously contend with the weight of belonging and unbelonging. There is an organic power to this book — a revelatory, controlled chaos. Tommy Orange writes the way a storm makes landfall.”


Watch the video


Spotlight on Identity: Tommy Orange in Conversation with Hal Wake
Keynote Address, SM Writer's Conference
Thursday, February 13, 2-3:30pm

San Miguel Writers' Conference and Literary Festival

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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