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The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club): A…
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The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel (edition 2019)

by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Author)

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7744119,214 (4.08)45
"Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage--and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child--but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn't understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram's private rebellion. Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he's ever known. So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery 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 utopic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind--but to do so, he must first master his magical gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss. This is a bracingly original vision of the world of slavery, written with the narrative force of a great adventure. Driven by the author's bold imagination and striking ability to bring readers deep into the interior lives of his brilliantly rendered characters, The Water Dancer is the story of America's oldest struggle--the struggle to tell the truth--from one of our most exciting thinkers and beautiful writers"--… (more)
Member:lillibrary
Title:The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel
Authors:Ta-Nehisi Coates (Author)
Info:One World (2019), Edition: First Edition, 416 pages
Collections:audiobooks, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:adult, audiobook, historical fiction, family, racism, historical, magical realism

Work details

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

  1. 00
    An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole (bibliovermis)
    bibliovermis: Two books of wildly, vastly different genres and tones, but with an overlap in period, character traits and characterization, and cultural analysis that's frankly kind of weird.
  2. 00
    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (g33kgrrl)
    g33kgrrl: Two amazing authors, two different literary approaches to the underground railroad, two stories, one terrible time in US history.
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» See also 45 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Good read. I do not think slave owners were that high minded. Think that ending not great ( )
  shazjhb | Mar 20, 2020 |
Amazing. Couldn't put it down. ( )
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
The novel's protagonist, Hiram Walker was born into a world in which those he knew were divided into two groups, the enslaved Tasked and free slave owners, the Quality. Hi, as he is known, has only known a world where he was considered no more than property, where any of the Tasked could be traded for a horse, husband and wife could be separated, and children removed and sold on the large slave market "down Natchez way" for any purpose the new owners saw fit. Being sold "down Natchez way" is a position that all Tasked feared.

Hi was the results of the rape of his beautiful, but mysterious mother, by the owner of the Virginia plantation, Lockless. When he was nine, his mother tried to runaway with him only to be caught by runaway slave hunters. When Hi's mother was sold "down Natchez way, his memory of his mother was exchanged for the yet-to-be-discovered supernatural power of Conduction, the ability to transport himself and others over miles in an instant if near water and one had memories of beginning and ending terminal and knowledge of the people being conducted.

Although Hi had it better than some of the Tasked being the son of the plantation owner, he was still one of the Tasked. He was educated and no longer worked in the fields. Falling in love with another of the Tasked, he convinces her to runaway with him. When caught by the slave hunters, both are jailed, later separated, and Hi is sold to a mysterious stranger who uses him as "game" to be hunted by visiting sportsmen. Being hunted, one hunt after another, causes Hi to become stronger and cleverer. Unknown to Hi, this training will only prepare him to become a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Although the life of the Tasked was painful to read, the perseverance of Hi and the ingenuity of the others outweighed the pain. Barring the element of magical realism, the description of how the Underground Railroad supported by freed slaves and slavery abolitionists was enlightening. One character's name involved in the Underground Railroad, who also possessed the power of Conduction, was Harriett. Although the last name was never given, I imagined the author had Harriett Tubman in mind. I am glad that I cracked the covers to this engaging and enlightening read and would recommend my friends to read. ( )
  John_Warner | Mar 12, 2020 |
The great tobacco plantations in Virginia are dying, and masters are selling the slaves Natchez-way. Seeking freedom, Hiram and Sophia attempt escape, and are captured with surprising results. ( )
  lilibrarian | Mar 10, 2020 |
The mix of serious, issue driven historical fiction with fantasy in this book is delightful. I've not read much like it before, but I would definitely read more of it in the future. The magic elements are so well tied to the actual historical issues and themes. I did find that the book dragged a bit toward the middle, but once it got going again, I couldn't put it down. ( )
  duchessjlh | Mar 6, 2020 |
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My part has been to tell the story of the slave. The story of the master never wanted for narrators. -Frederick Douglass
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For Chana
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And I could only have seen her there on the stone bridge, a dancer wreathed in ghostly blue, because that was the way they would have taken her back when I was young, back when the Virginia earth was still red as brick and red with life, and though there were other bridges spanning the river Goose, they would have bound her and brought her across this one, because this was the bridge that fed into the turnpike that twisted its way through the green hills and down the valley before bending in one direction, and that direction was south.
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