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Tommy Orange

Novelist and author of There There

Tommy Orange on Late Night with Seth Meyers
  • About Tommy Orange

    Tommy Orange’s There There is an exceptional debut novel that grapples with the history of a nation while showcasing a side of America few of us have ever seen. After noticing a lack of stories about urban Native Americans, Orange created a remarkable work that explores those who have inherited a profound spirituality, but who are also plagued by addiction, abuse, and suicide. There There tells the story of twelve characters who each have private reasons for travelling to the Big Oakland Powwow, and who come together after a brutal act of violence. Pam Houston praised the book, saying “This is Tommy Orange. Remember his name. His book’s gonna blow the roof off.”

    Houston’s prediction proved to be correct: Orange’s There There is a national bestseller that won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the American Book Award. It was also shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. It appeared on countless “Best Books of the Year” lists, including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, NPR, TimeO: The Oprah MagazineGQEntertainment Weekly, and Buzzfeed. 

    A brilliant new writer at the start of a major career, Orange talks about his craft, the writing process, and Native American history and culture, often with meticulously researched visual presentations. In his 2017 opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, “Thanksgiving is a tradition. It’s also a lie,” he confronted the violent past of the American holiday, asking readers to challenge their traditions. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow, as well as a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Tommy Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, and was born and raised in Oakland, California. He now lives in Angels Camp, California, with his wife and son.

  • Speaking Topics

    A Conversation with Tommy Orange

    In his talks, Tommy Orange delves into his writing process, including the themes of Native American culture and history that permeate his works. A thoughtful, measured speaker, he often incorporates powerful visuals in his workshops on the writing craft.

  • Video

  • Praise for Tommy Orange


    Tommy’s talk was well received, and I’ve heard feedback from many people that the conversation was informative and engaging. Tommy’s answers for the Q&A part of the talk were inspiring. He handled questions with such grace and really modeled the type of discourse we hope for on our campus. During the book signing he was patient and accommodating, even answering a few more questions as people passed by. I really couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I’m truly happy that Tommy was able to share this time with us and I know that everyone here enjoyed the evening!

    Vassar College, Vassar College

    I have had an opportunity to meet many successful and award-winning authors over the years and Tommy just stands out among them. He is so warm, welcoming, thoughtful, and patient. He dutifully signed every last book and cheerfully posed for photos with anyone who wanted one, and spoke thoughtfully and openly about the book and his experiences. We really, really, enjoyed hosting him.

    Tacoma Public Library, Tacoma Public Library

    The event went fabulously and our community loved him. There was quite a bit of audience laughter which I always think is a good sign! We had prioritized our local Tribal Nations for the meet-and-greet and it was lovely to see so many Native folks who maybe hadn’t seen themselves represented in literature before just being so happy to talk to him. Many people came up to me after the event to thank me for have Tommy and to express how much they enjoyed the event.

    Timberland Regional Library

    Tommy was wonderful! Tommy was engaging, informative, and really connected with students. I appreciated the time he put into being present with our community. Would highly recommend him!

    Mount Holyoke College

    [The event with Tommy] went really well and he was a total sweetheart. He was very gracious with everyone he met: gave each person his full attention. And during the big keynote everyone was impressed with how genuine and down to earth he was–no pretension at all. Thanks for everything you did to make this possible!

    UC Berkeley

    Tommy was amazing and wonderful to work with. We were grateful for the opportunity to connect and share in community with him. Our participants loved him!

    National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education

    Tommy’s events went very well! I loved being able to meet him and get to know him a bit; he’s so humble and down to earth, which of course is not always the case with authors who have gotten catapulted into such recent fame like Tommy has! His conversation on stage was great; the audience loved how honest and real he was. And his visit to the school was fantastic too!

    Get Lit! Programs

    The Tommy Orange event went wonderfully and was really well received. On a personal note, Tommy was such a pleasure to work with. He’s such a warm, approachable, and down-to-earth person who creates an inclusive and welcoming environment. He’s a tremendous human being or, as I’ve been describing him, ‘just a good dude.’

    North Idaho College

    I heard yesterday and today how madly enthused our students were and ready to discuss both his work and him today in class.  One quotation:  ‘He’s my hero.’ He was gracious, friendly, and so kind to our students—who mostly do not arrive at events like this expecting to be treated with the respect and attention Tommy paid them.

    Metropolitan State University

    We absolutely loved having Tommy at Inly. He was extremely well received. He was thought provoking, honest and authentic. Truly very warm and real. Everyone wished the event could have lasted longer!

    Inly School

    [The event] was perfect.  Tommy was so authentic and amazing – everything really just felt familiar and comfortable. We’re all in awe of his work, and it was perfect for both students and faculty (and administrators). We wish Tommy the absolute best and hope he can return. On a personal note, it was really an honor to meet him and hear more of his story.

    St. John’s University

    Praise for There There

    A gripping deep dive into urban indigenous community in California: an astonishing literary debut!

    Margaret Atwood

    There Theredrops on us like a thundercap; the big, booming, explosive sound of 21st century literature finally announcing itself. Essential.

    Marlon James

    There There is a miraculous achievement, a book that wields ferocious honesty and originality in service of telling a story that needs to be told. This is a novel about what it means to inhabit a land both yours and stolen from you, to simultaneously contend with the weight of belonging and unbelonging. There is an organic power to this book – a revelatory, controlled chaos. Tommy Orange writes the way a storm makes landfall.

    Omar El Akkad, author of American War

    This is Tommy Orange. Remember his name. His book’s gonna blow the roof off.

    Pam Houston

    There, There is an urgent, invigorating, absolutely vital book by a novelist with more raw virtuosic talent than any young writer I’ve come across in a long, long time. Maybe ever. Tommy Orange is a stylist with substance, a showboater with a deeply moral compass. I want to call him heir to Gertrude Stein by way of George Saunders, but he is even more original than that. This book will make your heart swell.

    Claire Vaye Watkins
  • Books by Tommy Orange

  • Media About Tommy Orange

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  • 212 572-2013
  • Tommy Orange travels from California

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