Tommy Orange received an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 2016. While there, Tommy worked on something he had conceived years earlier, what he calls "a multi-generational, multi-voiced novel about Native people living in Oakland," Tommy's hometown. There There was published in June -- rapturous reviews and a wave of publicity followed. It's now a national bestseller.
Tommy spoke with KUNM about the impact IAIA had on his writing. "Joining a Native writing community was a powerful thing for me. You don't have to come in explaining your culture, explaining yourself. Everyone understands your experience. There was a sense of freedom with how you can express yourself."
In this longer version of the interview, Tommy talks about the ideas that he wanted to explore in There There: "The ways that people either struggle because of, or benefit from, history. So much of our history has been written wrong on purpose. I really wanted people to look at what actually happened, what it feels like to be alive now, and know that's what you come from."