I have complained about literary fiction before, and I will complain about it again. But this book is a great example of the genre, in part because Tommy Orange is so good at his craft (this is a debut!!), but I think also because he is an author that provides a voice that is marginalized. He has things to say. The book itself is seeking (in part) to reckon with the idea of the modern Indian, the Urban Indian, and it does so with not just one or two native voices, but a whole web of them.
The book has at its center a powwow in Oakland that all the characters are connected to in some way, and we get various POV chapters from them that are both in the present, and delve into the past. The themes it deals with are heavy ones, and the book can be heavy at times, too, but it also feels ultimately hopeful.
My only complaint SPOILERS is that I wanted more of an actual ending. What we get is a lit-fic ending (I almost made it the whole review!), where an ending is implied. I suppose I can just make up the rest in my head, but I did feel that the pacing was off. There was a lot of build up, and then an explosion of conflict, and very little come down END SPOILERS.
Just as a fun note (a “fun” note, if you can’t abide spiders, do not click the link or read the rest of this): There is a character in this book that pulls spider legs out of an itchy bump in his leg, and because I Googled that (just like the characters did) I found this video where Orange confesses this is actually something that happened to him in real life.
Read Harder Challenge 2020: Read a book in any genre by a Native, First Nations, or Indigenous author.
CBR Bingo: Orange (plus two BINGO’s) — this is doubly satisfying because the cover is orange and so is his name