“What I love most about reading: It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. And keep climbing.”
Essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) pens a powerful fable of slavery and racism in his debut novel, mixing elements of magic realism with his trademark social and cultural commentary. Much like Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black, The Water Dancer puts a fresh spin on the escaped-slave narrative. Coates tells the story of Hiram Walker’s dangerous break for freedom—and his bid to reunite his family—without ever using words like “slave” or “master,” giving the book a timeless, archetypal feel that contains echoes of both ancient folk myths and modern-day superheroes. Scandal co-star Joe Morton’s gripping narration enhances the suspense and excitement of Hiram’s journey from unforgiving brutality to wondrous hope. He does an amazing job highlighting the sheer beauty of Coates’ storytelling, even breaking into song in some especially memorable scenes.