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The Resource The water dancer : a novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates

The water dancer : a novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Label
The water dancer : a novel
Title
The water dancer
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"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"--
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • ALA Notable Book, 2020.
  • BCALA Literary Award for First Novelist, 2020.
  • Booklist Editors' Choice, 2019.
  • Library Journal Best Books, 2019.
  • LibraryReads Favorites, 2019.
  • Loan Stars Favourites, 2019.
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Hiram Walker is the son of an enslaved woman and her slave master, owner of a prominent Virginia estate. When Hiram is nearly killed in a drowning accident, he detects an amazing gift he cannot understand or harness. He travels between worlds, gone but not gone, and sees his mother, Rose, who was sold away when he was a child. Despite this astonishing vision, he cannot remember much about Rose. His power and his memory are major forces that propel Hiram into an adulthood filled with the hypocrisy of slavery, including the requisite playacting that flavors a stew of complex relationships. Struggling with his own longing for freedom, Hiram finds his affiliations tested with Thena, the taciturn old woman who took him in as a child; Sophia, a young woman fighting against her fate on the plantation; and Hiram’s father who obliquely acknowledges him as a son. Throughout his courageous journey north and participation in the underground battle for liberation, Hiram struggles to match his gift with his mission. Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power, 2017) brings his considerable talent for racial and social analysis to his debut novel, which captures the brutality of slavery and explores the underlying truth that slaveholders could not dehumanize the enslaved without also dehumanizing themselves. Beautifully written, this is a deeply and soulfully imagined look at slavery and human aspirations.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling MacArthur fellow Coates has an avid following and his turn to fiction will bring in even more readers. -- Vanessa Bush (Reviewed 7/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 21, p32)
  • A gorgeous novel blending historical fiction and magical realism to create a powerful portrait of the people who made up the Underground Railroad. For readers who enjoyed Beloved by Toni Morrison and She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore. -- Mara Bandy-Fass, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, IL. (LibraryReads, September 2019)
  • /* Starred Review */ Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power) makes his ambitious fiction debut with this wonderful novel that follows Hiram Walker, a boy with an extraordinary memory. Born on a Virginia plantation, he realizes at five that he has a photographic recall—except where it concerns his mother, Rose, who was sold and whom he can only reconstruct through what others tell him. Born to Rose and Howell Walker, master and owner of Lockless, the land Hiram works, Hiram is called up at age 12 to the house to serve Maynard, his half-brother. When the novel opens, Hiram is 19, and he and Maynard are on their way back to Lockless when the bridge they’re traveling over collapses. Deep in the river, Hiram is barraged with visions of his ancestors, and finally a woman water-dancing, whom he recognizes as his mother. After he wakes up, mysteriously saved even as Maynard dies, Hiram yearns for a life beyond “the unending night of slavery.” But when his plans to escape with Sophia, the woman he loves, are dashed by betrayal and violence, Hiram is inducted into the Underground, the secret network of agents working to liberate slaves. Valued for his literacy and for the magical skill the Underground believes he possesses, Hiram comes to learn that the fight for freedom comes with its own sacrifices and restrictions. In prose that sings and imagination that soars, Coates further cements himself as one of this generation’s most important writers, tackling one of America’s oldest and darkest periods with grace and inventiveness. This is bold, dazzling, and not to be missed. (Sept.) --Staff (Reviewed 07/01/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 26, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ DEBUT This ambitious fiction debut by social critic Coates (Between the World and Me) features a protagonist with what might be called superpowers, not surprising from the man who brought The Black Panther back to life. Son of an enslaved African American woman and her owner, Hiram Walker grew up with conditional freedom, charged with being his slow-witted white brother Maynard's handler. The book begins with Maynard's death and focuses mainly on Hiram's efforts to piece together what happened that fateful night and how he himself escaped Maynard's fate. In passages sometimes weighty with philosophizing, Hiram becomes involved with the Virginia Underground Railroad, discovering that he has a skill called conduction that allows him to transport runaway slaves, as well as his loved ones, to safety in the free states. The two vital components of conduction are water and memories, and like most of us, Hiram has some memories he'd rather not revisit. VERDICT Coates cites Toni Morrison and E.L. Doctorow as huge influences in writing this book, and the scope and seriousness on display here would make them both proud. The author can be didactic, unable to escape the weight of his message, but when he allows the action to unfold, the story becomes a work of wonder. Essential for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.] --Stephen Schmidt (Reviewed 08/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 7, p85)
  • The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel. In pre-Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered "the Quality" while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as "the Tasked." Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who's barely out of his teens when he's recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. "Conduction" has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master's oafish son (who's Hiram's biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they're caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates' imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad's history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead's, if less intensely realized. Coates' narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel's Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency. An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel. (Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2019)
Assigning source
Provided by publisher
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10804704
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Coates, Ta-Nehisi
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS3603.O17
LC item number
W38 2019
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Slavery
  • FICTION / African American / Historical
  • FICTION / Fantasy / Historical
Label
The water dancer : a novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
403 pages
Isbn
9780399590597
Lccn
2019011177
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1085585289
Label
The water dancer : a novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
403 pages
Isbn
9780399590597
Lccn
2019011177
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1085585289

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      85 Literary Lane, Newnan, GA, 30265, US
      33.38561 -84.669793
    • Grantville BranchBorrow it
      100 Park Drive, Grantville, GA, 30220, US
      33.2371000 -84.835615

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