Darrell Dennis: Tommy Orange's debut novel There There 'epitomizes the new voice of Indigenous writers'
June is Indigenous Book Club Month and National Indigenous History Month in Canada. To celebrate, CBC Books is asking Indigenous artists, community leaders and advocates to share their favourite #IndigenousReads.
First Nations comedian, actor and screenwriter Darrell Dennis chose There There by Tommy Orange.
Dennis is the 2018 co-host of the Indspire Awards, an event honouring Indigenous success and achievement in business, arts, sports, public service and more. The Indspire Awards aired on CBC television, CBC Radio and CBC online on June 24, 2018.
"This novel epitomizes the new voice of Indigenous writers that are using their platform to shed light on the past injustices of Indigenous peoples, not to dwell on our victimization, but to ask the question: 'How do we take control of our own destinies?'
"Tommy Orange provides a sympathetic voice to his assortment of marginalized Indigenous characters, while still providing critical examinations of the hypocrisies that exist in our communities, particularly in the self-imposed 'Native leaders' that take it upon themselves to speak on behalf of the entire Native experience.
"His writing is angry, graphic and poetic, delving into the imagery of Native spirituality without ever romanticizing it or falling into the stereotypical Native mystic trap. Most importantly, despite the violence and hardships depicted in the book, there is an overall sense of love and hope for the Indigenous experience; the book is filled with Indigenous characters that are nuanced, complex and extremely human. It is a depiction often lacking in Indigenous stories, programs and social media accounts, that have derived their success from the depiction of our people as pan-Indian, helpless victims and lacking free will."
Darrell Dennis is a First Nations comedian, actor and screenwriter. He is from the Secwepemc Nation in the interior of British Columbia. He first starred in the CBC drama Northwood at age 17. Since then, Darrell's worked in classic theatre roles to film and television roles. He co-wrote and hosted the CBC Radio program ReVision Quest, which ran for four seasons and won the New York Festival Award. As a stand-up comedian, he's performed in televised galas at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and the Just For Laughs Festival. In 2014, he wrote a book entitled Peace Pipe Dreams: The Truth about Lies about Indians. He currently directs, acts in and writes for the APTN comedic television series Guilt Free Zone.