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Tommy Orange

Bestselling novelist and author of There There and Wandering Stars

  • 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. Margaret Atwood hailed it as an “astonishing literary debut.”

    An especially popular speaker for colleges, universities, and libraries, Orange talks about his craft, the writing process, and Native American history and culture, often with meticulously researched visual presentations. His newest book, Wandering Stars, is a novel about epigenetic and generational trauma that traces the legacies of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School through three generations of a family.

    Tommy Orange 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. He 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.

    Contact us for more information about booking Tommy Orange for your next event.

  • Speaking Topics

    A Conversation with Tommy Orange

    In a highly engaging “fireside chat,” Tommy Orange delves into his writing process, including the themes of Native American culture and history that inform his works. A thoughtful, measured speaker, he shares his thoughts on craft and his experience as a debut novelist with frankness and humor.

  • Video

  • Praise for Tommy Orange


    The event was amazing! We had no doubt Tommy would be an amazing speaker, and he delivered to each and every audience member. He was really great with connecting to people in a down-to-earth way, no matter who approached him. Whether speaking to a crowd or conversing one-on-one, he’s been nothing but delightful.

    Maryland Humanities

    Tommy Orange gave a wonderful compelling reading. It was very exciting for the audience that he read new work. Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive.

    Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University

    Everyone that I spoke with after the event was over the moon with the event and discussion. They loved Tommy’s onstage presence—and adored the brief basketball quips, which were so down to earth—and his overall thoughtfulness.

    During the event, some of our partners verbalized how impressed they were with Tommy’s responses to questions. He was wise, validating, and relatable.

    Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library

    Tommy was very well received by our attendees. He was generous, personable and of course, brilliant.

    Rancho Mirage Writers Festival

    Tommy’s visit to Elon in all regards was splendid. He is a kind and generous man who so easily shares heartfelt responses. He was totally at ease and consistently present. He spoke with interest and respect to everyone from students to the President of the university. Tommy is a creative genius who made an important impression on Elon during our MLK commemoration. Thank you to you and everyone at PRHSB and please share my sincerest thanks with Tommy.

    Elon University

    [Tommy Orange’s] presentation was incredible, and I wish we could have kept him on stage all evening to talk about his book and experiences. It was incredibly impactful for the students that met him, and our tribal liaison, who is also their teacher, was so grateful for the time the kids got to spend with him. Reflecting about this visit in its totality has me getting a bit teary-eyed this morning. The audience Q&A session was inspiring and there were tears.  I’ve been working on the Reads for a decade, and this is my favorite program we have ever done, and I think the most impactful as well. Please extend our gratitude to Mr. Orange for an exceptional visit.

    Fox Cities Book Festival

    The event went so well, and Tommy is just wonderful–kind, generous with his knowledge and experience, and so personable! Thanks to you and to him for a great day!

    Minnesota State Write Like Us

    [Tommy] was THE BEST to work with. Just a perfect guest. He signed EVERY book and autograph. Wonderful!

    University of North Carolina, Pembroke

    We felt that Tommy Orange’s visit was incredibly expansive and all of us — both students and faculty — appreciated and learned so much from his gracious, accomplished, and honest presence. This was the perfect event to draw us back together in person so thoughtfully, and we remain grateful.

    Convent & Stuart Hall, Schools of the Sacred Heart San Francisco

    Our evening program was fantastic! Tommy was wonderful, he is so interesting and thoughtful in his responses discussing his work. I know everyone was enjoying the conversation, I could have listened to him all evening – our hour went way too quickly.

    The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz

    “The evening was an unqualified success! Tommy’s authenticity and candor shone through in his conversation with Anton Treuer. Their intimacy and rapport lent itself well to Zoom – a perfect pair for this format! We’ve already received rave reviews from the crowd about the relevancy and timeliness of the ideas shared. This was a talk we needed ‘now more than ever,’ according to many of our loyal followers. Please share our warm wishes and thanks to Tommy. He has been a long-awaited guest for our audience and his captivating performance did not disappoint.”

    Friends of the Hennepin County Library

    It will take a while for us to come down from the high of Tommy’s visit to UM. It was truly spectacular, start to finish. Tommy was such a generous and kind speaker, authentic in his presentation and willing to talk to everyone and meet them where they were. We are already hearing glowing reviews from the students, and the community members who showed up in mass numbers were thrilled, as well. There was a very large Native community population at each event, and, as one community member (Yup’ik) said, ‘I am so grateful for Tommy giving voice/humor/love to the expansive modern Native experience. I only cried three times.’ We could not be happier with how yesterday went. Tommy Orange is always, always welcome at the University of Montana. Thank you for all your work so that our community could experience time with him.

    University of Montana

    Tommy was phenomenal. What a gem! His talk was incredibly well received by our audience—so honest and heartfelt, as well as funny and profound. And he was just amazing with the high school students who “get” him as much as he “gets” them. Lots of learning happening on all fronts. It was truly an honor.

    Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures

    Tommy was a delight– very kind, thoughtful, and easy to talk to. Students and faculty raved about him… He offered great advice and insights and was just a pleasure to talk to all day long.

    California State University, Channel Islands

    Tommy’s visit was a great success! I have spoken with all kinds of folks this past few days – students, faculty and community members – and it is clear that he was all that we expected and more. People found him to be thoughtful, approachable, gracious and patient. He was just really terrific.

    College of William & Mary

    I just wanted to share what a success Tommy’s visit was and to say thank you. He is a wonderful human and we so enjoyed having him here.

    The Free Library of Philadelphia

    Tommy was gracious, engaged, articulate and our students loved him. It was a pleasure to get to know him and share time with this deep thinker. It was a fantastic community experience (many of us live such sheltered lives of privilege).

    University of Idaho

    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

    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

    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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