We asked Professor and Chair of Comparative Literature Corinne Scheiner “What’s On Your Reading List?”
“I just finished rereading Tommy Orange’s ‘There There,’ which I first read when it was published in 2018. In the novel, we hear the stories of a wide range of characters, all of whom are heading to a Big Oakland Powwow. Through these characters, as well as through its prologue, the novel takes on stereotypes of Native identity, subverting these stereotypes by offering up each character’s own story of their lived experiences. These stories are ones of shared struggle for, Orange says, ‘I wanted to have my characters struggle in the way that I struggled, and the way that I see other native people struggle, with identity and with authenticity.’
“Lately, I have been thinking a lot about identity and contemporary fiction, in particular the way(s) in which novels not only allow for representations of identity, but also provide spaces in which to deconstruct identities and I have been exploring new-to-me voices, which is how ‘There There’ found its way back to my current reading list. If you’ve not read it yet, I highly recommend adding it to yours.