One of Essence's Best Books of the Decade!
A New York Times Notable Book of 2012!
Gathering of Waters is a finalist for a Phillis Wheatley Fiction Book Award!
Gathering of Waters was named a finalist for a 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award!
Gathering of Waters has been selected as a Go On Girl! April 2013 Book Pick.
"McFadden works a kind of miracle--not only do [her characters] retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises...Beautiful and evocative, Gathering of Waters brings three generations to life...The real power of the narrative lies in the richness and complexity of the characters. While they inhabit these pages they live, and they do so gloriously and messily and magically, so that we are at last sorry to see them go, and we sit with those small moments we had with them and worry over them, enchanted, until they become something like our own memories, dimmed by time, but alive with the ghosts of the past, and burning with spirits."
--Jesmyn Ward, New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
"Read it aloud. Hire a chorus to chant it to you and anyone else interested in hearing about civil rights and uncivil desires, about the dark heat of hate, about the force of forgiveness."
--Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR
"McFadden combines events of Biblical proportions--from flooding to resurrection--with history to create a cautionary, redemptive tale that spans the early twentieth century to the start of Hurricane Katrina. She compellingly invites readers to consider the distinctions between 'truth or fantasy'...In McFadden's boldly spun yarn, consequences extend across time and place. This is an arresting historical portrait of Southern life with reimagined outcomes, suggesting that hope in the enduring power of memory can offer healing where justice does not suffice."
"The rich text is shaped by the African American storytelling tradition and layered with significant American histories. Recalling the woven spirituality of Toni Morrison's Beloved, this work will appeal to readers of mystic literature."
"McFadden makes powerful use of imagery in this fantastical novel of ever-flowing waters and troubled spirits."
"In this fierce reimagining, the actual town of Money, MS narrates the story about the ghost of Emmett Till and his from-the-other-side reunification with the girl he loved as a child in Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden."
Gathering of Waters is a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi--a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.
Tass Hilson and Emmett Till were young and in love when Emmett was brutally murdered in 1955. Anxious to escape the town, Tass marries Maximillian May and relocates to Detroit.
Forty years later, after the death of her husband, Tass returns to Money and fantasy takes flesh when Emmett Till's spirit is finally released from the dank, dark waters of the Tallahatchie River. The two lovers are reunited, bringing the story to an enchanting and profound conclusion.
Gathering of Waters mines the truth about Money, Mississippi, as well as the town's families, and threads their history over decades. The bare-bones realism--both disturbing and riveting--combined with a magical realm in which ghosts have the final say, is reminiscent of Toni Morrison's Beloved.
Narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi, a place divided by race, McFadden's eighth novel (after Glorious) traces the influence of murdered prostitute Esther, whose soul inhabits some of the characters. Her seductions and destructive schemes indirectly lead to the birth of Tass, the fictional woman who would love Emmett "Bobo" Till, the teenager whose real-life 1955 murder helped fuel the Civil Rights movement. McFadden combines events of Biblical proportions from flooding to resurrection with history to create a cautionary, redemptive tale that spans the early twentieth century to the start of Hurricane Katrina. She compellingly invites readers to consider the distinctions between "truth or fantasy." Like other novels that allow victims of crime to wander between the afterlife and the waking world in search of resolution, McFadden's leaves some plot elements open-ended, contributing to a sense of mysterious forces at work. Evil exists as its own rationale, as do Esther's motivations. In McFadden's boldly spun yarn, consequences extend across time and place. This is an arresting historical portrait of Southern life with reimagined outcomes, suggesting that hope in the enduring power of memory can offer healing where justice does not suffice.
Too short to be this good!
I truly love Bernice as a writer. Her story telling is magical. I couldn't tell if this was short stories or one novel initially. Good book like all her others just too short.
That's why the 4 out of 5 stars.