The Chetek Area Book Club will meet for approximately an hour at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, at Calhoun Memorial Library, 321 Moore St., for a lively discussion of Tommy Orange’s debut novel, “There There.” The 2018 work of fiction begins with a prologue that details some of the atrocities perpetrated on Native Americans. However, Cheyenne and Arapaho author Orange’s primary focus involves describing and examining the existence of today’s “urban Indian.”
Readers interested in the history and current status of Native Americans will find the novel thought-provoking and revelatory. Orange employs a diverse and multigenerational group of 12 characters and the setting of Oakland, Calif., to explore how Native Americans have and have not adapted to life in the big city. He dedicates a chapter to each character, relating their personal histories and revealing, often unbeknownst to them, their interrelatedness.
Of course, the characters embody a host of relatable and universal traits—for example, Tony who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome; Opal Bear Shield, a grandmother caring for her three grandsons; Bill Davis, a Vietnam veteran who works as a custodian; and Edwin Black, a young, biracial man with a master’s degree who has an internship with the Big Oakland Powwow.
Orange also has the Big Oakland Powwow serve as a character, a unifying theme and a climax in the novel.
A variety of reviewers, authors and publications recommended “There There.” For instance, The Seattle Times wrote, “Bursting with talent and big ideas ... funny and profane and conscious of the violence that runs like a scar through American culture.” The novel is a riveting and quick read.
“There There” is available through MORE, Wisconsin’s digital library system. No fees or commitments are required to join the Chetek Area Book Club. The remaining books for this year include “The Immortalists,” “The Cloud Atlas,” “The Orphan Master’s Son,” “A Gentleman in Moscow,” “Before We Were Yours” and “Educated: A Memoir.”
For more information, call Debbie Skozek at 815-861-9141.