Novelist Tommy Orange Speaks Feb. 4 at Gonzaga Visiting Writers Series

Tommy Orange (Photo by Elena Seibert)
Tommy Orange (Photo by Elena Seibert)

January 27, 2020
Gonzaga News Service

SPOKANE, Wash. — Tommy Orange, author of the Pulitzer-Prize nominated novel “There There,” will read from his work at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 4 in the Hemmingson Center Ballroom as part of the popular Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series.

“There There” is about interconnected Native American communities as 12 individuals travel independently to the Big Oakland (California) Powwow until they are brought together by a violent act. The story touches upon the struggle of urban Native tribes with histories of addiction, abuse, and suicide while embracing their beauty and spirituality.

A finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the novel was featured on several “Best Books of the Year” lists, including from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, NPR, and O: The Oprah Magazine. It won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize.

Orange was born in 1982 in Oakland and is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. Orange attended and graduated from the Institute of American Indians Arts with a Master of Fine Arts. He now lives with his wife and their son in Angels Camp, California.

This 2019-2020 Visiting Writers Series began on Sept. 17 with a reading by Denise Leto and Adam Giannelli, followed by a reading from Nicholas Carr on Oct. 24. This year’s series concludes with a reading by author Jim Daniels at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2 in the Jepson Center’s Wolff Auditorium.

The Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series, which began in 2007, brings distinguished authors to campus to engage both the Gonzaga audience and the wider Spokane community. The series fosters artistic collaboration across disciplines, encourages intellectual curiosity and seeks to share the wonder and challenges of living a creative life. All events in the series, are free and open to the public.

The series was developed by Tod Marshall, Gonzaga English professor and former Washington State Poet Laureate. Meagan Ciesla, GU associate professor of English, has directed the series the past two years.

The 2019-2020 Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by Gonzaga’s Center for Public Humanities, the Arnold Distinguished Professor, the Disability Access Office, the Powers Chair of the Humanities, the Native American Studies program, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Other sponsors include the University of Washington Medical School, Spokane Falls Community College, and The Davenport Hotel.

For more information, please contact Meagan Ciesla at (509) 313-6671 or