Wandering Stars

Lunch For Libraries - Tommy Orange

Presented by BMO Harris Bank, Madison Public Library Foundation's 2024 Lunch for Libraries event will feature Tommy Orange. He will appear live at Monona Terrace to discuss his latest novel, Wandering StarsJoin us for this annual fundraiser on April 23rd at 12:00 p.m. 

The Pulitzer Prize-finalist and author of the breakout bestseller There There, delivers a masterful follow-up to his already classic first novel. Extending his constellation of narratives into the past and future, Tommy Orange traces the legacies of the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School through three generations of a family in a story that is by turns shattering and wondrous.

"For the sake of knowing, of understanding, Wandering Stars blew my heart into a thousand pieces and put it all back together again. This is a masterwork that will not be forgotten, a masterwork that will forever be part of you.” —Morgan Talty, bestselling author of Night of the Living Rez

Colorado, 1864. Star, a young survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre, is brought to the Fort Marion Prison Castle, where he is forced to learn English and practice Christianity by Richard Henry Pratt, an evangelical prison guard who will go on to found the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, an institution dedicated to the eradication of Native history, culture, and identity. A generation later, Star’s son, Charles, is sent to the school, where he is brutalized by the man who was once his father’s jailer. Under Pratt’s harsh treatment, Charles clings to moments he shares with a young fellow student, Opal Viola, as the two envision a future away from the institutional violence that follows their bloodlines.

Oakland, 2018. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield is barely holding her family together after the shooting that nearly took the life of her nephew Orvil. From the moment he awakens in his hospital bed, Orvil begins compulsively googling school shootings on YouTube. He also becomes emotionally reliant on the prescription medications meant to ease his physical trauma. His younger brother, Lony, suffering from PTSD, is struggling to make sense of the carnage he witnessed at the shooting by secretly cutting himself and enacting blood rituals that he hopes will connect him to his Cheyenne heritage. Opal is equally adrift, experimenting with Ceremony and peyote, searching for a way to heal her wounded family.

Tommy Orange once again delivers a story that is piercing in its poetry, sorrow, and rage and is a devastating indictment of America’s war on its own people.

Ticket sales for this event have ended. Lunch for Libraries proceeds fuel year-round author programming of the Wisconsin Book Festival, presented by Madison Public Library in partnership with Madison Public Library Foundation. The majority of Lunch for Libraries proceeds go toward the Wisconsin Book Festival’s free, year-round author programming. A portion of Lunch for Libraries proceeds fund Madison Public Library youth literacy efforts. 

In conversation with Aaron Bird Bear.

Tommy Orange


Tommy Orange is a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he was born and raised in Oakland, California. His first book, There There, was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and received the 2019 American Book Award. He lives in Oakland, California.

Recent Book
Wandering Stars

Aaron Bird Bear

Aaron Bird Bear headshot

Aaron Bird Bear (Mandan, Hidatsa & Diné - citizen of Three Affiliated Tribes) served as the inaugural Director of Tribal Relations at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 2019-2023. Bird Bear came to UW–Madison in 2000 as the American Indian Student Academic Services coordinator and later served as an assistant dean in the UW-Madison School of Education. From 2018-2023, Bird Bear served as co-Principal Investigator for an educational research project, Indigenous Learning Lab, addressing Ojibwe youth in Wisconsin. While at UW-Madison, Bird Bear co-created the UW-Madison First Nations Cultural Landscape tour and to help PK-12 educators teach the 12 Native Nations of Wisconsin. Bird Bear earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington-Seattle and a master’s degree from UW–Madison.