Aug. 29—Maryland Humanities kicks off programming for One Maryland One Book 2023 with a virtual event with "There There" author Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho) in conversation with Maryland-based writer Brendan Shay Basham (Diné) at 6 p.m. Sept. 7.
The author of the 2023 One Maryland One Book Selection will visit Maryland in-person at Salisbury University at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 for a public conversation with Isabel Quintana Wulf of the English Department, followed by an audience Q&A and book signing.
Released in 2018, "There There" tells the interconnected stories of a cast of 12 native characters from across generational lines, as they converge toward the Big Oakland Powwow. Together, the stories give a riveting portrait of the what Orange calls the urban Indian experience.
"There There" was one of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year and won the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, as well as the PEN/Hemingway Award.
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.
Maryland Humanities partners with local organizations, such as The Handsell House, a nonprofit now owned by the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance. The house sits on the Nanticoke River (also called the Chicone Village) in what many now know as Dorchester County. In conjunction with One Maryland One Book, the Handsell House will hold a community panel discussion on the topics of "There There," in partnership with the Pocomoke Indian Nation and Dorchester County Public Library on Nov. 12.
Highlighting the book's focal point on indigenous people who live in cities, Ashley Minner (Lumbee) will lead a walking tour of the American Indian community of East Baltimore, recently digitized at baltimorereservation.com. Attendees will travel to Hokahey Indian Trading Post, Vera Shank Daycare/Native American Senior Citizens, Inter-Tribal Restaurant and more. The tours will be conducted in partnership with the Enoch Pratt Library.
Each year, Maryland Humanities funds libraries, schools and other organizations who plan to produce their own programming related to One Maryland One Book. The organization will announce logistical details on the Minner's walking tour and the partner programming in the fall.
"There There" was chosen as this year's One Maryland One Book by a selection committee of 20 Marylanders, including teachers, scholars, librarians, writers, booksellers and community workers representing 10 counties and Baltimore City. A public call for books under the theme of "Connection" garnered nearly 300 titles, from which the committee then made their selection.
"'There There' provides us an opportunity to connect with several Native American lives that feel immediate and relevant to the world today," says Lindsey Baker, executive director of Maryland Humanities. "These characters are deeply rooted in their rich, often traumatic histories, yet are instantly recognizable to any reader. Tommy Orange shares with us their triumphs and their struggles, creating fully-rounded characters and journeys to follow."
Both author events are free. Maryland Humanities will also collaborate with other partners across the state, including libraries, schools, universities, book clubs, and local Native/Indian organizations to conduct programs where readers can connect with each other and discuss the book's themes. Maryland Humanities will distribute free copies of the book to partners.
Copies of the 2023 One Maryland One Book selection will also be dropped off in public spaces in counties across the state as part of "Wandering Books," a campaign that introduces readers to "There There" and the One Maryland One Book program. Anyone can receive clues about where to find books via Maryland Humanities' Maryland Center for the Book Facebook page or by following @mdhumanities on Instagram.
This year, libraries in Maryland will distribute books throughout their communities. After finding a copy, readers can log on to bookcrossing.com and register their book's ID number. Then, they can post a comment or review when they've finished reading. Following that, readers can then leave the book somewhere public for another reader to find and enjoy. Instructions are located inside the book cover. Participation is free. Those who register books will be automatically entered to win a $25 gift certificate to bookshop.org and must include their name and email to be eligible.