by Tommy Orange
from the March 26, 2018 issue of The New Yorker
Heads up for a debut author in this week’s magazine. Tommy Orange’s first book, a novel entitled There There, comes out in June. I’d never heard of him until The New Yorker tweeted that his story would be appearing this week. His author biography on Penguin Random House’s site says he is an “enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma” and he is a recent MFA grad from the Institute of American Indian Arts. In a BuzzFeed article Orange is paired with Terese Marie Mailhot as writers “launching a new wave of Native American literature” (here). This is a good article that goes deeply into each author’s approach to their current trajectory. It also notes that early reviews of There There bring up similarities to Erdrich’s style, so that got my attention.
It should be noted that “The State” is an excerpt from There There, but I’m okay this time since I do genuinely want to see just what we might be getting here. This looks promising. In his interview with Deborah Treisman (here), he lists writers he returns to again and again: Borges, Kafka, Robert Walser, John Kennedy Toole, Sylvia Plath, Clarice Lispector, Roberto Bolaño, Louise Erdrich, Álvaro Mutis, Felisberto Hernández, and Andrey Platonov. If nothing else, I’d like Orange to be a reading buddy.
Please start and join in the conversation below. How did you like “The State”? Are you interested in There There?