The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Staff Pick

In the highly-anticipated, richly imagined first novel from National Book Award-winner Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer (One World, $28), we travel to a plantation in antebellum Virginia. Hiram Walker, the son of an enslaved—or, in the book’s terminology, “tasked”—Black woman and her white master, is born into a life of slavery, and virtually orphaned at age nine when his father sells his mother to a family farther south. He is a young man of many talents, however, including both a photographic memory and, kindled by the phenomenal strength of his memories, especially those of his mother, the power of conduction. Along with Harriet Tubman, another great conductor, Hiram puts his singular ability to move himself and others across bodies of water in the service of the Underground Railroad, and Coates interweaves his life with those of the runaway slaves Hiram helps lead north. He also interpolates texts by and about those who perished in the middle passage, constructing a collective memory more powerful than any one person’s. Written with dazzling prose, this searing and uplifting story explores the constructs of family and race and the salvific power of memory to bind people together.

The Water Dancer: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399590597
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: One World - September 24th, 2019

Membership Benefits


 Gift cards can be used online or in-store.

Gift Card