The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club)

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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

“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.

Advance praise for The Water Dancer

“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.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Coates 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.”—Booklist (starred review)

The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club) - Ta-Nehisi Coates Summary

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The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club) - Ta-Nehisi Coates Book Reviews (697)


Check it out4 star

Haven’t been in a book club in a while, so when I saw Oprah was starting hers up again, I was excited to join along! The book was very interesting, a good interesting. I loved how the book pulled you in a brought raw emotion up in each chapter. Definitely something to check out, if you are in need of a good read! 45


Simply Amazing!!!!5 star

The word WOW! Does not even come close, I was completely transported to a world before my time and taking on a journey through the eyes of a person I now see very clearly... they say you don’t know unless you’ve walk a mile in someone shoes well this is it. Great job!! Mr. Ta-nehisi Coates. 55


Amazing novel!5 star

Everyone should definitely read this. A must read! Well written! I couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those that will stay with you and you will definitely read it over and over. 55


T5 star

Tt S shafted2WGiAZq I Caries daze 55


Water Dancer5 star

This book is great! It should be part of required reading in schools. It should be made into a movie . 55


“The Water Dancer” by Ta-nehisi Coates5 star

I felt myself at one with this book, visualizing myself in the presence of its characters and the travails and joys they were experiencing. A book is a good read, for me, when I become immersed and care about the outcome of the characters’ lives. The mechanism or introduction of Conduction for the Underground Railroad was new for me, but who am I to say it did not truly exist. I highly recommend reading this offering from Ta-henisi Coates. 55


Interesting5 star

A different take on American history. 55

steve yellen

The Water Dancer5 star

In view of Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s brilliant and refreshing discussions on reparations, I found Ta-Nehisi’s book timely and terrific ! I was so moved that I’d like to bring this powerful author to El Paso to be my guest speaker for the Annual Basketball in the Barrio fund raiser. Steve Yellen 55


Just OK2 star

I had high hopes for this book given the reviews. But after re-reading the reviews I have to agree that it is just OK. Certainly an important story, but I’ve read far better. He is a good writer, his nonfiction being amazingly well written, but this is not that. Magical realism is tricky stuff, and using it well to promote horrendous real life situations can be hit or miss. This is a miss. Until a kit halfway through this book was getting somewhere. And then it lost me in the attempts at magical realism with powerful but unrealistic speechifying. I struggled to finish it and felt little. I would not recommend. But it’s your call. 25

Darius the DMAC


I don’t read much outside of self-help and self-development. However this book had me engaged and wanting more each DEAR TIME : drop everything and read. Many thanks to Author and Narrator job well done. Darius McDonald 55

The Water Dancer (Oprah's Book Club) Book Discussions

Other Ta-Nehisi Coates Books

Between the World and Me


Between the World and Me

4.5     1701
We Were Eight Years in Power


We Were Eight Years in Power

4     161
The Beautiful Struggle


The Beautiful Struggle

4.5     64

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