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Humanities ND Presents Tommy Orange

Date: Apr 28, 2023
Time: 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
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As part of the National Endowment for the Arts BIG READ Initiative, Humanities North Dakota welcomes Tommy Orange to the Bismarck stage. Finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and recipient of the 2019 PEN/Hemingway Award, Tommy Orange’s book There There follows 12 characters from Native communities as they travel to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American, “sublimely render[ing] the truth of experiences that are passed over” (San Francisco Chronicle) . “Brilliantly, furiously, magnificently, tragically, the story of America” (Elle), Orange crafts a novel of “pure, soaring beauty” (New York Times Book Review) , “pulling together the intimacies of family, community, history, and violence” (Rumpus). “There There drops on us like a thunderclap; the big, booming, explosive sound of twenty-first-century literature finally announcing itself,” writes award-winning novelist Marlon James. “Essential.” This event is sponsored in part by Bismarck State College's Bringing Humanities to Life.

This event is FREE but you may pay if you’d like to help support Humanities North Dakota’s programming. You must register online in advance; tickets will not be available at the door.

To register, visit https://www.humanitiesnd.org/event-details/tommy-orange-pulitzer-prize-finalist-and-big-read-selected-author.

About Tommy Orange

The son of a white mother and Native father and an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Orange grew up in Oakland, California, with a feeling of being “both and neither”: “not white enough on the white side and not Native enough on the Native side” (Powell’s Books). Growing up during a “time of assimilation” (Guardian) further complicated Orange’s relationship to Indigenous histories, stories, and knowledge. Though Orange’s father was fluent in Cheyenne, he never taught the language to his children. “There’s a lot of pain related to the past, and I think he was wanting a fresh start, wanting to raise us in Oakland and have us figure it out for ourselves,” Orange shared with the Guardian. As an adult, Orange learned more of the details of Native histories that he’d only been aware of in the abstract. “I worked for the Native American Health Center in Oakland for a little less than a decade,” Orange noted in an interview for the National Book Critics Circle Awards in 2019. “At one point, we took—for a suicide prevention grant—youth over to Alcatraz. We had elders who had been there [during the occupation] come tell their stories. It was the first time I heard a lot [of what happened], especially the first-hand account.” This multigenerational, collaborative practice of storytelling would shape Orange’s widely acclaimed first book, There There. A graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts—where he has also taught—Orange now lives with his wife and son in Angels Camp, California.


Humanities ND Presents Tommy Orange
Apr 28, 2023 | 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
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