There, There

By Tommy Or­ange, Harvill Secker, £12.99

Belfast Telegraph - - REVIEW - Re­view by Ella Walker

It sounds pre­ten­tious to say a book is im­por­tant, but There, There by Tommy Or­ange, his de­but novel, is, dumb­found­ingly im­por­tant.

A pow-wow is com­ing up in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, and there’s a lot of money to be made. Time flits and flur­ries, as Or­ange builds up the months and years be­fore the event, with each chap­ter hing­ing on a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter.

He shares their his­to­ries, their trou­bles and the way they in­di­vid­u­ally in­ter­sect with their Na­tive Amer­i­can her­itage.

There’s Blue, try­ing to find a way back to her grand­sons, Oc­tavio learn­ing to dance like his an­ces­tors via YouTube, Tony, whose face re­veals the foetal al­co­hol syn­drome, his mother’s legacy.

The book grap­ples with the im­pact of al­co­holism, gang vi­o­lence, rape, do­mes­tic abuse, obe­sity, tech­nol­ogy, ab­sent par­ents, loss and grief, but that makes it sound soul-de­stroy­ing.

It’s not: it’s mag­nif­i­cent and some­thing of a mas­ter­piece.

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