This episode of “Literary Arts: The Archive Project,” features a lecture from Tommy Orange in Portland, Oregon. This lecture was the culminating event of the Multnomah County Library’s 2020 Everybody Reads program—an annual shared reading experience that includes city-wide events for readers of all ages. In his lecture, Orange details his experience as a Native American growing up and working in Oakland, California. He didn’t always want to be a writer, and he shares the twisting path that led him to this work. His debut novel, “There There,” is a winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, and the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. It was shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and named one of the best books of the year by numerous publications. “There There” — and Orange himself in this lecture — explores a multitude of themes, from identity and ownership to the urban-rural divide.
Tommy Orange is a 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 Angels Camp, California.