Deep Read | 15 January 2021

Humanities Institute launches 2021 Deep Read with Tommy Orange’s novel ‘There There’

By By  for UCSC News


Tommy Orange (photo by Elena Seibert)

Following the success of last year’s Deep Read with guest author Margaret Atwood, The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz has announced the second installment of its new program that invites the campus and community to think deeply about literature, art, and the most pressing issues of the day.

The goal of the program is to read books from a wide variety of genres and explore their implications on our politics, inner lives, and communities. Driven by our rapidly changing and tumultuous times, The Deep Read is designed to be a new platform for intellectual engagement, classes, and major events with top writers and thinkers.

The Deep Read book selected for 2021 is Tommy Orange’s New York Times bestselling novel There There, a multi-generational, fast-paced story about the lives of urban Native Americans. 

One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, There There was long-listed for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It additionally received the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Pen/Hemingway Award.

Born and raised in Oakland, California, Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He is a graduate of the M.F.A .program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and was a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow.

To kick off this year’s Deep Read, The Humanities Institute (THI) is offering free copies of Orange’s There There to the first 1,200 students to sign up for The Deep Read, and another 200 books to the first Deep Readers across the country who sign up as well.

The program includes weekly emails about different aspects of the book to help deepen the reading experience, guided by UC Santa Cruz professors in the Humanities and Social Sciences, to explore it through the lenses of anthropology, literature, history, indigenous studies, and feminist studies.

Participants will also be able to join the conversation in a series of online salons, where professors will discuss the book with UCSC students and the broader Deep Read community.

This quarter, Porter College is also offering a course in conjunction with the College Scholars Program titled “Tommy Orange, There There, and the New Native Renaissance.” Students in the class will study how the power of collective storytelling and community activism is depicted in the struggle against the marginalization of Native life, the exploitation of Native lands, the continued erasure of Native experience from the historical record, and the legacies of genocide and occupation.

The 2021 Deep Read will culminate in a special live virtual event with author Tommy Orange on March 3, 2021. 

The 2021 Deep Read Program is made possible through the generous support of the Helen and Will Webster Foundation. It is co-sponsored by Bookshop Santa Cruz and UCSC’s American Indian Resource Center, College Scholars Program, Division of Student Success, Porter College, Council of Provosts, University Library, and University Relations.

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