Book Rating (75)
Narrator Rating (17)

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

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Joe Morton

14 Hours 16 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

September 2019

Audio Book Summary

#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.

“This potent book about America’s most disgraceful sin establishes [Ta-Nehisi Coates] as a first-rate novelist.”—San Francisco Chronicle

NAMED ONE OF PASTE’S BEST NOVELS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time • NPR • The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • Esquire • Good Housekeeping • The New York Public Library • The Dallas Morning News • Kirkus Reviews • Library Journal

“Nearly every paragraph is laced through with dense, gorgeously evocative descriptions of a vanished world and steeped in its own vivid vocabulary.”—Entertainment Weekly

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.

Praise for The Water Dancer

“Ta-Nehisi Coates is the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race with his 2015 memoir, Between the World and Me. So naturally his debut novel comes with slightly unrealistic expectations—and then proceeds to exceed them. The Water Dancer . . . is a work of both staggering imagination and rich historical significance. . . . What’s most powerful is the way Coates enlists his notions of the fantastic, as well as his fluid prose, to probe a wound that never seems to heal. . . . Timeless and instantly canon-worthy.”—Rolling Stone

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Reviews

  • Janice C.

    The personal, although fictional, history is so well authored. Mr. Coates transports you to his era. However; the book is long winded, repetitive. I got lost in the sea of characters. Also, I’m not a lover of the mystical part, especially referring to actual people in history.

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  • Patricia M.

    I have just retired as a History high school teacher. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There are so many ways that students can learn from this book. A few to mention symbolisms especially about the water and about different characters. Looking at a story from a fifferent perspective and allowing them to research and allow them to dare wtite this story differently. Relationships with your family and what would you do if you lost your love ones at a young age. Your first love and how it can and does affect you for the rest of your life. How are we enslaved today? I would have them compare this book with stories and books from the Holocaust. So much more. Great book. Pat Mal

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  • Juliet G.

    absolutely enjoyed this book. the reader made it very interesting too.

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  • Janis S.

    I thought the narrator was very good, loved his singing voice with one caveat that really annoyed me. During long dialogs he seemed to develop hypersalivation, accumulating a lot of saliva in his mouth and it really was hard to listen with earbuds in when this happened. Sorry, it was frequent enough that I have to comment. Maybe I'm neurotic, but this has never happened with other readers I've listened too. It did get in the way of my ability to concentrate.

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  • Latoya L.

    Great read, I mean can you expect anything less .

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  • Hilary C.

    Very, very good. Riveting. A novel of great importance. Must read. The narration is excellence.

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  • Joe F.

    Too long. Book rambled

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