Tommy Orange’s new ‘Wandering Stars’ traces a long trail of trauma and belonging

side by side of a man and a book
"Wandering Stars," the new novel by Tommy Orange, is both a sequel and a prequel to his breakout hit "There There."
Photo courtesy of Michael Lionstar | Book cover courtesy of Linda Huang.

At the center of Tommy Orange’s new novel sits a family nearly destroyed. It’s suffering the long-term effects of government-ordered separation, from decades of displacement and neglect, and from the white American philosophy best summed up by the phrase: Kill the Indian, save the man.

It’s a theme familiar to readers who loved Orange’s first novel, “There There.” In fact, “Wandering Stars” functions as both a prequel and a sequel to that best-seller.

Orange joined MPR News Host Kerri Miller on this week’s Big Books and Bold Ideas to discuss how he weaves stories that are both historical and modern in an attempt to highlight the importance of family and honoring ancestors as a way to rebuild identity and belonging.


  • Tommy Orange is an author and a teacher at the Institute for American Indian Arts. His first book, “There There,” was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and received the 2019 American Book Award. His new novel is “Wandering Stars.”

Subscribe to Big Books and Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsRSS or anywhere you get your podcasts.

Subscribe to the Thread newsletter for the latest book and author news and must-read recommendations.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.