Book Club Reflections
Inspired by her appreciation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ non-fiction writing, Deanna chose The Water Dancer as our January 2019 book club pick. Being a Oprah's Book Club pick didn’t hurt either!
This ambitious debut novel, centering on Hiram Walker, a slave gifted a mysterious power, weaves historical fiction with elements of magical realism into a transcendent poetic work that explores the power of stories, collective memory, and how the separation of families during slavery is as devastating as its physical realities.
Although not everyone loved the supernatural element in the book, we spent a lot of time discussing Coate’s unique spin on the slave narrative comparing it to others we have previously read. The Water Dancer focuses less on the horrific graphic physical realities of slavery and spends more time delving into the power of memory to transcend time and place allowing slaves, (the Tasked), like Hiram, to take destiny in their own hand.
“For memory is the chariot, and memory is the way, and memory is the bridge from the curse of slavery to the boon of freedom.”
Although this novel was different from other slave narratives we have read, it was definitely a thought provoking read -a testament to Coates’ essayist skills.
"I was young and love to me was a fuse that was lit, not a garden that was grown. Love was not concerned with any deep knowledge of its object, of their wants and dreams, but mainly with the joy felt in their departure."
"For memory is the chariot, and memory is the way, and memory is bridge from the curse of slavery to the boon of freedom."