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Anita Duneer

 Brandon Hawk

 Molly Bruce Patterson


Open Books - Open Minds

Open Books—Open Minds Shortlist for 2021/2022

2020-2021 Common Book Selection
There There (2018) by Tommy Orange


"Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable."
–Penguin Random House



  • Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize (winner)
  • National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize (winner)


  • Aspen Words Literary Prize (finalist)
  • Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award (winner)
  • Dayton Literary Peace Prize (finalist)
  • L.A. Times Art Seidenbaum Award (finalist)
  • PEN/Hemingway Award for a Debut Novel (winner)
  • Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (finalist)
  • Society of American Historians' Prize for Historical Fiction (winner)
  • ALA's Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction (finalist)

About Tommy Orange

“Tommy Orange is a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he was born and raised in Oakland, California.” – Penguin Random House

Interviews and Q&As with Tommy Orange on YouTube.


“With a literary authority rare in a debut novel, it places Native American voices front and center before readers’ eyes.” —NPR/Fresh Air

“Mr. Orange’s sparkling debut is not merely a literary triumph but a cultural and political one, too. It is a work of defiance and recovery.” —The Economist

“Orange’s book is truly a page turner filled with multi-generational accounts of violence, recovery, memory, identity, beauty, and even a little despair. It’s a book where you as the reader can’t put down until you finish it with both a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of anticipation of what could happen next.” —Lakota Country Times

"In Tommy Orange’s There There, an ambitious meditation on identity and its broken alternatives, on myth filtered through the lens of time and poverty and urban life, on tradition all the more pressing because of its fragility, it is as if he seeks to reconfigure Oakland as a locus of desire and dreams, to remake the city in the likeness of his large and fascinating set of characters." –Colm Toibin, The New York Times

“How do you rewrite the story of a people? This question shapes Tommy Orange’s sorrowful, beautiful debut novel. . . . Even in its tragic details, it is lyrical and playful, shaking and shimmering with energy.” —The Guardian


Please be sure to visit the RIC LibGuide for this year’s book to view additional information and interactive content!

There There by Tommy Orange


The OBOM committee and the Adams Library wish to acknowledge that Rhode Island College sits on the traditional homelands of the Narragansett and Wampanoag peoples. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal from this territory, and we honor and respect the many diverse Indigenous peoples still connected to this land on which we gather. It is important to understand the long-standing history that has brought the college to reside on this land, and to seek to understand our roles within that history.

"A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgement." Native Governance Center
This guide describes the importance of land acknowledgment and tips for creating an acknowledgement statement.


photo of Book Nook in Adams Library

R​eference Department student assistant,
Hector Nunez in the OBOM Book Nook

OBOM Book Nook

We have copies of this year's book and shortlisted books for next year.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Page last updated: October 21, 2020