Books

The Water Dancer

The Water Dancer is a novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her —but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he's ever known.

So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia's proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram's resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.

This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children — the violent and capricious separation of families — and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today's most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen. (From One World)

Coates won the National Book Award in 2015 for his nonfiction book Between the World and MeHe is a MacArthur fellow and writes Marvel's Black Panther and Captain America comics.

From the book

I had always avoided that bridge, for it was stained with the remembrance of the mothers, uncles, and cousins gone Natchez-way. But knowing now the awesome power of memory, how it can open a blue door from one world to another, how it can move us from mountains to meadows, from green woods to fields caked in snow, knowing now that memory can fold the land like cloth, and knowing, too, how I had pushed my memory of her into the "down there" of my mind, how I forgot, but did not forget, I know now that this story, this Conduction, had to begin there on that fantastic bridge between the land of the living and the land of the lost.


From The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates ©2019. Published by One World.

Interviews with Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Between the World and Me' is a deeply felt message to his son about what it means to be black in America today. 22:59
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates says the foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is based on the repudiation to Barack Obama’s legacy. 24:21

Other books by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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