Fall 2019

There There book cover

There There

Tommy Orange

The title of Tommy Orange’s novel, There There, references Gertrude Stein’s famous dismissal of Oakland: “there is no there there.” In so doing, Orange recasts Oakland as a destination; it’s not a place of departure but one of belonging and complicated affiliation for his sprawling cast of Native American characters. Indeed, Oakland draws with centripetal force an extended family to its core for a much-anticipated pow-wow, revealing a gritty, beautiful, and disturbing urban Indian landscape. The compelling characters and vivid descriptions reveal a profoundly different there there that will change the way readers see and think about Oakland, its people, its history, and its possible futures.

—BETH PIATOTE, Professor of Ethnic Studies

Student reviewers offered comments such as these:

“[E]very aspect of this book seems like a strength. It’s very powerful, the story is compelling, the ending is devastating. This book makes you feel intensely and think about all sorts of things. It does an incredible job at making the reader imagine people complexly. There is no one in the book you don’t empathize with, there is no one character you can call a villain. Every character is so complicated and flawed and deserving of compassion.”

“The visceral emotions of the different characters come across vibrantly and beautifully. In following multiple characters throughout the novel, readers see multiple perspectives and personalities that they can relate to on some level. Additionally, the novel’s focus on indigenous identity, familial troubles, and its setting in Oakland makes it very relevant and important to a wide range of readers and in today’s time.”

“It is a unique book that teaches the hardships of life, and at the same time teaches the beauty of it.”

“I just found the book incredibly moving. I also learned a lot; reading this book on Thanksgiving was a really strange experience, and I had very different feelings this Thanksgiving break than I did last year. It’s made me rethink a lot in my life. I think everyone should read it.”

Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel There There, a multi-generational, relentlessly paced story about a side of America few of us have ever seen: the lives of urban Native Americans. Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angel’s Camp, California.

Tommy Orange
Tommy Orange

News and Resources

With There There, an intellectual connection across campus
By Will Kane, Berkeley News | AUGUST 23, 2019

Students reading books

The Book All Freshmen Are Reading: Finding identity in a new place

Goodreads Community: On the Same Page with Tommy Orange
This is a group for students, faculty and staff at UC Berkeley who are reading There There and would like to discuss it with other members of the Cal family.


Poster for Tommy Orange event

A Conversation with Tommy Orange
Mon, 08/26/2019 – 7:30pm
Haas Pavilion, UC Berkeley campus

Join us on Monday, August 26, 2019, for a keynote event featuring author Tommy Orange, who will be interviewed onstage by Professor Beth Piatote (Native American Studies). Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Poster for Indigenous Bay Area event

Indigenous Bay Area
Wed, 09/18/2019 – 4:00pm
Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall

Moderator: Line Mikkelsen (Linguistics, UC Berkeley)

Vincent Medina (Chochenyo Ohlone, Muwekma Ohlone Tribe)
Peter Nelson (Coast Miwok, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria; American Indian Studies, San Diego State University)
Linda Yamane (Rumsien Ohlone)

Poster for Routes of Resistance event

Routes of Resistance: American Indian Activism from the 1960s to Present
Mon, 09/23/2019 – 4:00pm
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall

Moderator: Carolyn Smith (Karuk, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley)

Eloy Martinez (Southern Ute, Activist, Alcatraz, Wounded Knee, Standing Rock)
Ron Goode (North Fork Mono, Tribal Chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe)
Terry Supahan (Karuk, Executive Director, True North Organizing Network)

Poster for California on the Page event

California on the Page
Thu, 09/26/2019 – 4:00pm
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall

Moderator: Hertha Sweet Wong (English, UC Berkeley)

Chiyuma Elliott (author of California Winter League)
Alberto Ledesma (author of Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer)
Karen Llagas (author of Archipelago Dust)

Chiyuma Elliott, Alberto Ledesma, Karen Llagas, Hertha Sweet Wong
Chiyuma Elliott, Alberto Ledesma, Karen Llagas, and Hertha Sweet Wong speaking on the panel "California on the Page" (2019)
Poster for Derek Miller Band concert

The Derek Miller Band: In Concert!
Mon 10/21/2019 – 6:00pm
The Multicultural Community Center, MLK Student Union



Selection Committee
Sine Huang Jensen, Asian American and Comparative Ethnic Studies Librarian
Jake Kosek, Geography
Kathleen Ryan, Plant & Microbial Biology
Alan Tansman, East Asian Languages and Cultures
Evan Variano, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Faculty Planning Committee
Andrew Garrett, Linguistics
Beth Piatote, Native American Studies
Carolina Reid, City and Regional Planning
Carolyn Smith, Anthropology
Hertha Sweet Wong, English

Tommy Orange and Beth Piatote at Haas Pavilion
Tommy Orange and Beth Piatote at Haas Pavilion (2019)