Welch Fest: Risk, artistry, novelty — Tommy Orange on Welch and fiction

THOMAS PLANK for the Missoulian

The last time Tommy Orange was in Missoula, he and his family had driven all the way up from California to see a once-rescheduled Trevor Noah show, endured a trip to the emergency room in Idaho Falls after an incident involving an electric scooter, and only discovered the show had been moved a second time when they arrived in Montana.

Missing Noah wasn’t a big deal, but his opener was Josh Johnson, a comedian and writer Orange is a big fan of.

“That was the only part that really stings,” he said on a phone call during his son’s karate lesson.

Orange, born and raised in Oakland, California, and author of the acclaimed 2018 novel “There There,” is one of the featured speakers at this year’s inaugural James Welch Native Lit Festival. Welch is close to Orange’s heart, both on a literary level and a romantic one.

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“I was working for a Native organization in Oakland, and we had started a book club with coworkers, but my wife and I were the only two that showed up for it,” Orange said. Welch’s first novel,

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