the next good book

There There

By Tommy Orange


290 pages

What’s it about? This group of interrelated stories revolves around the Native American community in Oakland, Ca.  All twelve characters are traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow for a variety of reasons.
What did it make me think about? This novel was unique in that it did not take place on the Great Plains in the 1800’s, not does it take place on a reservation.  This is the story of twelve people that live in an urban setting and how being a Native American affects their life in the city of Oakland.
Should I read it? So I will say that the hardest part of this book was keeping the characters straight.   Don’t despair- just read on! Tommy Orange succeeds brilliantly in making all these characters matter.  Even if you are unsure who is who- you are still interested in knowing more.  Jacquie Red Feather was one of my personal favorites, but so many of the characters were compelling.I would put this book up with any of the great novels that connect many short stories into one larger story.    As soon as I closed the book I wanted to re-open it and start over.  It’s that kind of a book.
Quote- “I want to bring something new to the Native experience as it’s seen on screen.  We haven’t seen the Urban Indian story.  What we’ve seen is full of the kinds of stereotypes that are the reason no one is interested in the Native story in general, it’s too sad, so sad it can’t even be entertaining, but more importantly because of the way it’s been portrayed, it looks pathetic, and we perpetuate that, but no, fuck that, excuse my language, but it makes me mad, because the whole picture is not pathetic, and the individual people and stories that you come across are not pathetic or weak or in need of pity, and there is real passion there, and rage, and that’s part of what I’m bringing to the project, because I feel that way too, ….”

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