Tommy Orange


Tommy Orange (born January 19, 1982) is a California-born novelist and writer.


  • Everything I did in the book that’s related to modern technology and contemporary behavior had to do with revisiting the idea of the historical monolithic Native American that everyone thinks of, and that ... the only real way to be a real Native American is to be historical or have a headdress or look this one way. It’s deeply damaging to a people to not have a dynamic range of ways to be that are still acceptable as Native. One of the common experiences of being a Native is to be questioned, like: Are you enough? So I wanted it to feel very contemporary and now.
  • The initial impulse was just liking it in other books. … Also, coming from a community that felt voiceless in the larger scheme of things—as far as movies and literature, as far as representation goes—it felt like the right decision to have a whole bunch of voices come out, as opposed to one or two.
    • On choosing to have multiple narrators in his debut novel in “Meet Tommy Orange” in Diablo Magazine (July 2018)
  • I wanted to write characters that felt true and real, and there’s a lot of harrowing detail about the lives of Native people. You can just look at the health statistics and they’re pretty staggering. I wanted the characters to be working-class, because so often the characters in novels that I’ve read are white and upper-middle-class with white, upper-middle-class problems…
  • In Stein’s Everybody’s Autobiography, she talks about how someone was asking her what it’s like to come back to her childhood home in Oakland, where I also come from, and she says, “There is no there there.” She was talking about how it had been developed over and was unrecognisable. I was using that as a parallel to Native experience and the “there there” of the land before it was colonised, developed over and bordered.

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