Octavia E. Butler meets Marvel’s Black Panther in The Deep, a story rich with Afrofuturism, folklore, and the power of memory, inspired by the Hugo Award–nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’s rap group Clipping.
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.
Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.
Yetu will learn more than she ever expected about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
The Deep is “a tour de force reorientation of the storytelling gaze…a superb, multilayered work,” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and a vividly original and uniquely affecting story inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping.
This extraordinary short novel is at least the third creative iteration of a premise built on the documented drowning of pregnant African women by white male slave traders. Imagining that the infants survived as a community of mer-people was the contribution of the techno group Drexciya. In turn, the experimental rap group Clipping (Diggs, Hutson, and Snipes) was inspired to collaboratively develop "The Deep," a song about conflict between people of the sea and people of the land. Now Solomon (An Unkindness of Ghosts) steps forward with a prose version that is by turns meditative, didactic, and rawly angry. The focus is Yetu, a historian for an undersea community that calls itself wajinru and cultivates collective forgetfulness of its agonizing past, backstopped by the one member who bears the burden of holding the entire community's memories. It is too much for Yetu, and amid the excruciating annual ritual of sharing out and then taking back the rememberings, she flees her people. Her burden of memory is lifted, but her burden of responsibility has only shifted, as her choice to free herself from her role has devastating consequences. Solomon interrogates the devastations of slavery without ever showing a white perspective, in a tour de force reorientation of the storytelling gaze. This superb, multilayered work will speak to any empathetic reader, and be best appreciated by those steeped in its cultural and artistic context.
The details of her world, the struggles, the conflict and the resolution was all unexpectedly good! This is not your average little mermaid story.
Halle (Ariel) mentioned this book in an interview she said daveed diggs (Sebastian) put her on ... I’m gonna give it a go
Fresh … Raw
This book touched me. I could feel the impact that being captured and taken across the ocean against one’s will and treated as an inferior being would have on a person, on a culture. Also lifted was the “that’s just the way it is” boxes that are what men are and what women are. I highly recommend this book as a read.