The Water Dancer (Paperback)
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This is the story of Hiram, a slave on a Virginia plantation, his father the very master of the estate. Hi is gifted beyond measure with perfect memory and recollection, save for the memory of his departed mother, lost in the fog of his mind. It is this very talent of memory that gets him called into the house to serve a new task, waiting on his white half-brother, Maynard. But Hi has another gift beyond his memory, a power known to few, the power of Conduction. Upon seeing a phantom dancing on a bridge, events are set into motion that will send Hiram on a journey through the horrors of slavery, the wonders of freedom, and the salvation of one's true family. Beautifully written, Coates has weaved a story about the power of stories; those we tell others, those we hold dear, and those forgotten waiting to reemerge. The real and the fantastic merge in what is sure to be an instant bestseller.
— SeanOctober 2019 Indie Next List
“Ta-Nehisi Coates understands something big and he understands it better than anyone else right now. The Water Dancer led me on a journey up and down the landscape of American slavery with a narrative that feels like The Book of Exodus meets, well, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Over 400 pages I have cried, I have laughed, I have been educated, and I have been enlightened. Coates writes with an honesty that can only come from a sublime, even spiritual, understanding of the souls of the white man and the black man in America. Written with poignancy and humanity, The Water Dancer left me stunned but clear-headed, like I had just been woken up from a deep, dream-filled sleep.”
— Norris Rettiger, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, MS
Winter 2020 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Hiram Walker, the son of a Black woman and her white master, is born into slavery in this rendering of life in antebellum Virginia. But it is the strength of his memories that kindles a special inner gift: the magic of conduction. In the much-anticipated first novel from Coates, Hiram’s talent is used by agents of the Underground Railroad to bring runaway slaves north, and also to help make families whole once again. This searing and ultimately uplifting story explores the constructs of family, real or artificial, and the power of memory to bind people together from afar.”
— Keith Vient, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC