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Tommy Orange: Everybody Reads 2020

Tommy Orange shares his non-linear journey to becoming a writer and the inspiration behind his award-winning debut novel, There There.

This episode of The Archive Project features a lecture from Tommy Orange in Portland, Oregon. This lecture was the culminating event of the Multnomah County Library’s 2020 Everybody Reads program—an annual shared reading experience that includes city-wide events for readers of all ages. In his lecture, Orange details his experience as a Native American growing up and working in Oakland, California. He didn’t always want to be a writer, and he shares the twisting path that led him to this work. His debut novel, There There, is a winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, and the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. It was shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and named one of the best books of the year by numerous publications. There There—and Orange himself in this lecture—explores a multitude of themes, from identity and ownership to the urban-rural divide.

Link to “Ghost Dance” short film referenced in Orange’s lecture:


Tommy Orange is a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he was born and raised in Oakland, California.

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