Seattle Reads, the "one book, one city" program started by The Seattle Public Library in 1998, announced its book selection for 2020: “There There” by Tommy Orange. The award-winning novel is the first Seattle Reads pick by an indigenous author.

"This book does such a beautiful job telling the story of urban Native communities and making them visible," said Stesha Brandon, Literature & Humanities Program Manager for The Seattle Public Library.

The level of community involvement in the selection process is another first for the program. The selection committee for 2020 included not only Library staff, but also four members of Seattle’s literary community: Kathy Hsieh, writer, director and producer; Kalani Kapahua, Third Place Books events manager; Donna Miscolta, short-story writer and novelist; and Zola Mumford, North Seattle College librarian and curator of the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival.

"It was a unanimous decision," Brandon said. "The committee felt that Orange's novel was one of the most powerful books we’ve read in years, and the writing is heartbreakingly beautiful."

Orange will visit Seattle from May 16-17, 2020, and will speak at four public Seattle Reads events. Look for more details on the programs early in 2020 at


Tommy Orange's novel, which Colm Tóibín described in The New York Times as “an ambitious meditation on identity and its broken alternatives," follows 12 characters from Native communities, all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, who are all connected to each other in ways they don’t yet realize. 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.

"There There" was one of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year, winner of both the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize and the Pen/Hemingway Award. "There There" was also longlisted for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.


Orange graduated from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and was a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California. 


  • A limited number of copies of "There There" will be available at Library locations for informal borrowing by individual patrons or book groups in February or March 2020.
  • Library locations with a book group will also discuss the book. In 2020, check our calendar for a discussion near you.


In 1998, The Seattle Public Library launched Seattle Reads, a program to encourage Seattleites to read and discuss the same book. The "one book, one city" program is now an annual event held in cities, states and countries around the world.

Seattle Reads is made possible by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and The Wallace Foundation, with support from Seattle City of Literature and media sponsor The Seattle Times. Other sponsors and partners will be announced later.

For more information, visit, call the Library at 206-386-4636 or Ask Us.