This book grabbed me from its first pages and never let me go Hiram Walker is the son of a plantation owner But he s the black son, born to a slave and thus a slave himself His mother was sold Natchez way when he was 9 After a near death experience as a young man, he plots to escape Despite having a photographic memory, Hiram has lost his memories of his mother It s a literary device that really captures the loss of a family member to slavery This book is so beautifully written it takes your breath away in much the same way that the near drowning takes Hiram s It truly captures the horrors of slavery I loved his use of words Not slave and owner But Tasked and Quality Even the whites are designated as Quality or Low Bored whites were barbarian whites While they played at aristocrats, we were their well appointed and stoic attendants But when they tired of dignity, the bottom fell out New games were anointed and we were but the pieces on the board It was terrifying There was no limit to what they might do at this end of the tether, nor what my father would allow them to do As can be expected, Hi is infuriated He s the smart one while is white half brother is a dullard, gambling away what s left of the family fortune Coates spells out for us the incredible suffering of being a slave And he s not talking physical suffering but the mental suffering of never being able to express yourself or allow yourself natural wants like a loving relationship Coates uses magical realism as a plot device It becomes a larger and larger part of the story as the book goes on I struggled with this, so when a well known historical character is given a certain mythical power Similar to The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, one has to be willing to suspend belief My other quibble is that he doesn t set us firmly in time or place We know that Virginia is in decline, the soil exhausted from years of tobacco But I couldn t tell how far before the Civil War we were Or where in Virginia we were as there is no Goose River, Elm County or Brycetown This is a pet peeve of mine and just a few sentences could have cleared things up This is not a fast read It needs to be pondered I do feel it started much stronger than it finished But it s a very meaningful read and I would recommend it My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book Obviously I m the worst at coming back to review those pesky RTC placeholders, but I felt the need to say a few words regarding this one Even though I can t remember any specific quotes this far removed, I will always remember how moving the narrative is, how engaging the writing was, and how necessary, important, and timely this story will continue to be Do yourself a favor and pick this one up @Free Kindle á The Water Dancer á 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 Utopic 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. If you ve read his non fiction than you know what a powerfully this author writes I was so curious about his first first foray into fiction Would it be as good, as powerful For me the answer is yes This is a vividly portrayed and imaginative slave narrative It takes place mostly in Virginia at a plantation called Lockless Hiram is our narrator, he remembers little of his mother and he is the black son of the plantation owner He also possesses a remarkable memory, and another unusual talent, which I will not explain in this review The life and brutality of the slave life is powerfully portrayed, the daily losses, the death of self The slaves are called the tasked, and they yearn for connection, for freedom Freedom takes an unusual turn here, and a little magical realism or substitution is employed The characters, so many, even some of the quality are involved in the intense struggle for freedom He also doesn t forget to mention all the disenfranchised, those yearning for a freedom not willing not given to them.A truly remarkable first novel, wonderful characters, steady pacing and s little something different that sets it apart.ARC from Netgalley. The beginning pulled me in right away but then at some point I found myself forcing to read it.Poetic writing brutal powerful history but rather than being worried the subject would be too emotionally heavy to experienceI failed in getting the jell O to gel One of the most gorgeous book covers I ve seen all year An Oprah pick A beautiful man of a human being who wrote it I enjoyed his YouTube interviews than the book. A breathtakingly imaginative, lyrical and well researched antebellum historical fiction debut novel, infused with magical realism from Ta Nehisi Coates Follow the life of the extraordinary enslaved Hiram Walker, the black son of Howell Walker, plantation owner in Virginia, whose mother is sold by his father at the tender age of 9, gifted with the ability to remember everything, except memories of his mother, and later the power of conduction A new vocabulary is created for slaves and whites, the fight for freedom leads to the Underground Railway with its hopes and dreams of a better future This is a richly descriptive and detailed picture of the horrors of slavery, the deliberate practice of breaking up families and loving relationships and the psychological trauma this inflicts Underpinning these inhuman wicked acts is the drive to crush and extinguish any embers of resistance to the status quo Coates gives us profoundly traumatic, heartbreaking and moving storytelling that haunts, a necessary retelling of American history, the repercussions of which continue to bedevil contemporary America, doing it with humanity and compassion Highly recommended Many thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC. I m in the minority here so read other people s reviews.Up to around 35% I just loved this book then it went off into another direction and moved so very slow I kept going till 50% and could not bring myself to keep going I m giving it three stars because of the part that I loved Thank you to Netgalley and One World for the opportunity to read this If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it Toni Morrison, Song of SolomonIn Ta Nehisi Coates s debut novel,The Water Dancer,a young enslaved man named Hiram Walker gets involved in the Underground Railroad His personal resistance manifests in Conduction, an incipient mystical power which if only Hiram could master it would enable him to spirit people away from their bondage.For me, this premise immediately calls to mind Morrison s Song of Solomon, with its legends of literal human flights to freedom Conduction however is earthbound, moored to memories The latent possibility of its magic simmers just out of reach for most of this novel Coates explores the psychology of enslavement with thoughtful and detailed nuance We observe the frequently paradoxical feelings, motives and actions of traumatised people riven families and their consequent grief the emotional confusion of a slaveowner to whom Hiram is both son and property dubiously fanatical white abolitioniststheir opposition was a kind of vanity, a hatred of slavery that far outranked any love of the slaveThese characters abound with deeply human complications, and Coates seems mainly interested in uncovering their layers through a kind of painstaking emotional archaeology This is a slow, ruminative novel, and the prose being heavily reliant on expository dialogue is a little too stolid to compensate for a lack of narrative thrust I also found it hard to get a fix on Hiram as a character, despite the novel being entirely his first person perspective It s probable that I picked this up at exactly the wrong time for me, but I struggled at times to stick with it With its striking resonances, I found a lot to admire in The Water Dancer on an intellectual level, but less immersion in the story than I had hoped 3.5 stars. I m giving those stars in shame, hands shaking as I push them to the key board and clicked 3 shiny stars Then I started to run away, dropping down my phone as if someone gave me a daily chore to clean up the entire house and I m escaping from secret big hole at my wall hid behind Rita Hayworth poster That s my shawshanking glory run, my dear friends When I started this book and captivated by those lyrical, emotional, poetic, amazing words created its own magic, I thought I was falling in love with this book I loved it so much so as a treat I shared my wine with it Yes, I m clumsy and poured it on my kindle, but my intentions were sincere as always Most of the first parts, I felt the words waltzing on my mind like a fresh breeze rejuvenating my soul I felt breathless, excited and shaken at the same time And take a break to look at this beautiful cover There are so many reasons to fall in love with this book desperately.I loved the characterization of Hiram, slave and the master with photographic memory, lost his mother at 9 he has hard times to bring memories out about her, maybe he is blocking them because of emotional stress he has to deal with As his brother dies, he achieves to conduct himself across the water and his magical abilities start to show off.But what went wrong caused me to fall from love and change my opinions about the book Well In my opinion those parts embellished with beautiful magical realism didn t fit the harsh realistic and shameful history Those words seemed like patches or the wrong pieces of puzzle could never fit to complete the missing pieces place All the psychical, mental suffering, brutality of slavery give us cold showers and shake us to the core, freeze your blood But when the magical elements took control of the story telling, I shook my head no because I found it a little clunky and I felt like the story started to repeat itself over and over again So pages started to seem like longer and the pace is slower as I started to lose my interest in the story.And instead of Hiram, other characters were undeveloped and seemed like they ve been created haphazardly without thinking about their backgrounds, attributes, motives They weren t realistic enough to resonate I think the author s profession is focused on writing non fictions So this book was new challenge and milestone for the author s carrier I also watched his interviews and his kind, genuine words and amazing nature, opinions about our modern world deeply affected me That s why when I gave three stars of this book, I felt like a scumbag traitor because at the beginning my expectations were so high and I was so close to say that was my favorite fiction of this year Well, unfortunately it didn t work for me But it gave me purpose to read Between the world and me and other nonfiction books of the author My tbr list is the highest place on the earth You can see the whole universe if you ever reach to the top 4 starsAt its core, this novel is a story of slavery, the shameful injustice, horrific treatment of human beings, of the amazing guts and guile of the people in the Underground transporting people to freedom, in the south of the 1860 s This is such a powerful story depicting the life of slaves on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, highlighting throughout the gut wrenching separation of children from their mothers, separation of fathers and children, husbands and wives The writing is beautiful in so many places that I found myself rereading passages It s a complex story infused with magical realism It s a creatively written story, but the magical realism wasn t a problem for me given the beautiful prose when I found myself in these instances of Conduction I do admit that I was a little confused at times about the Underground as portrayed here Hiram Walker, called Hi, a slave, son of the plantation owner has the gift of memory, the ability to recall everything he sees and hears and reads when he learns to read, except one thing He can t remember his mother, sold by his father when Hi was nine years old Hi has another gift, one he struggles to understand until he finds a place as an agent on the Underground On Hi s journey we meet a large cast of characters, some are courageous, some will touch your heart and there were some that I just couldn t understand, but the journey is an amazing one This isn t a book for everyone because the magical realism may not be for you, but it s an important and beautifully written story of slavery unlike anything I ve read It will hit you in the gut as it should and the characters will touch your heart with its depiction of family, of love, and the desire to be free I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House One World through NetGalley.