The Water Dancer

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**#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**

**OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK**

From the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me, a boldly conjured debut novel about a magical gift, a devastating loss, and an underground war for freedom.

Stunning and profound, the highly anticipated debut novel from the award-winning, bestselling author of We Were Eight Years in Power - a story of bondage, freedom, and love.

Every slave plantation is a house of spies and intrigue. No slave walks a straight line or has a single story - deep within their hearts is betrayal and insurrection. But against whom?

Hiram Walker is a man with a gift and a curse. He was born between worlds: his father a white plantation master, his mother a black slave. And he was born with a secret, special power. Sold to a new mistress as punishment for trying to escape, Hiram discovers her home is a secret hub of the underground railroad: a training ground for its agents. With his special power, Hiram fast becomes a highly skilled agent, retrieving the enslaved from the most dangerous circumstances - but betrayals lurk everywhere. And eventually Hiram must risk everything to return to his father's plantation and free the friends he left there.

Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Paperback Published 20 October 2020 416 pages

“Coates balances the horrors of slavery against the fantastical. He extends the idea of the gifts of the disenfranchised to include a kind of superpower. But The Water Dancer is very much its own book, and its gestures toward otherworldliness remain grounded. In the end, it is a novel interested in the psychological effects of slavery, a grief that Coates is especially adept at parsing. . . . In Coates’s world, an embrace can be a revelation, rare and astonishing.”—Esi Edugyan, The New York Times Book Review

“The most surprising thing about The Water Dancer may be its unambiguous narrative ambition. This isn’t a typical first novel. . . . The Water Dancer is a jeroboam of a book, a crowd-pleasing exercise in breakneck and often occult storytelling that tonally resembles the work of Stephen King as much as it does the work of Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead and the touchstone African-American science-fiction writer Octavia Butler. . . . It is flecked with forms of wonder-working that push at the boundaries of what we still seem to be calling magical realism.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

 “While neither polemical nor wholly fantastical, the story draws on skills [Coates] developed in those other genres. . . . The story’s bracing realism is periodically overcome by the mist of fantasy. The result is a budding superhero discovering the dimensions of his power within the confines of a historical novel that critiques the function of racial oppression. . . . Coates isn’t dropping supernatural garnish onto The Water Dancer any more than Toni Morrison sends a ghost whooshing through Beloved for cheap thrills. Instead, Coates’s fantastical elements are deeply integral to his novel, a way of representing something larger and more profound than the confines of realism could contain.”The Washington Post

“Mythic language pervades the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates. . . . With The Water Dancer . . . we pay witness to a writer unchained . . . a writer finally able to marry novelistic tendencies to the form. . . . The fistfuls of firmament Coates is able to bring back to us are a wonder to behold. . . . The horrors depicted never felt rote or part of any genre rulebook. In highlighting families, Coates made his characters individuals. . . . Elements of the adventure novel, of the heist novel, of the romance are all there. But Coates expertly subverts the expectations each of those labels carries. . . . The book does not lack for scene-stealers. . . . Who is he talking to when he demands remembering? He’s talking to us. All of us.”—Tochi Onyebuchi, Tordotcom

“Studied and meticulous, the novel is a slave narrative that depicts the quotidian horrors of family separation. Even so, it’s remarkably tender: The Water Dancer is also a romance.”The Atlantic

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