‘The Water Dancer’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates #BookReview #FridayReads

Lose yourself in the stunning debut novel everyone is talking about – the unmissable historical story of injustice and redemption that resonates powerfully today

Hiram Walker is a man with a secret, and a war to win. A war for the right to life, to family, to freedom.

Born into bondage on a Virginia plantation, he is also born gifted with a mysterious power that he won’t discover until he is almost a man, when he risks everything for a chance to escape. One fateful decision will carry him away from his makeshift plantation family and into the heart of the underground war on slavery… 

‘A transcendent work from a crucial political and literary artist’ Diana Evans

‘I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Toni Morrison

This is such a powerful book. The way in which the author is able to write so compellingly about the historical and the magical with equal skill, is astounding. Imaginative, beautifully written, almost lyrical in places, the prose flows effortlessly, and characters are written with authenticity and heart.

As a white woman, I cannot possibly understand the complex ramifications of slavery, of the legacy of such a horrific time in history. Literature and film can often be the most evocative ways to show this history. Coates’ skill is in using his wonderful imagination, his beautiful prose, to make this supernatural tale historically significant.

Hiram is so complex, so well-written, he is a compelling narrator. There are moments that are terrifying, moments that are full of hope, of love, moments that are so frustrating and infuriating. And the magic, the supernatural, feels seamless, such a natural part of Hiram and such a natural part of the narrative.

The historic details add a further layer and there are stories within this story that are astounding to read. 

An absolutely brilliant novel.


  1. This is what book reviews are supposed to be—a party you go to thinking you’ll catch up with old friends only to meet a new one so dazzling you have no choice but to drop everything and pursue it. (Or in my case, to click over to Amazon and put in that overnight order!)

    Liked by 1 person

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