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The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Literary fiction

The Water Dancer

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Ta-Nehisi Coates on your first novel!

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Quick take

A brutal reality with a touch of magic. Take your time with this somber, profound, and rigorous read.

Good to know

  • Heavy read

  • Slow build

  • Cerebral

  • Serious

Very challenging read

  • Nonlinear and nontraditional plot structure
  • Difficult and complex writing
  • Many concepts and characters

Why I love it

I am a descendant of enslaved black Americans; someone whose mother disappeared, for a time, when I was young; and, as a memoirist, I’m a writer who remembers for a living. For these reasons, I was in tears by the ninth page of The Water Dancer. What kept me turning the page was the joy I found in witnessing a story I thought I knew, told in a way I’d never seen it told before.

The novel follows ...


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 f...


Get an early look from the first pages of The Water Dancer.

Read a sample →

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1759 ratings
  • 53% Love
  • 35% Like
  • 9% Dislike
    October 2019