• $14.99

Publisher Description

For every Oprah’s Book Club pick sold, Apple will make a contribution to the American Library Association to support local libraries.

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • From the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me, a boldly conjured debut novel about a magical gift, a devastating loss, and an underground war for freedom.

“This potent book about America’s most disgraceful sin establishes [Ta-Nehisi Coates] as a first-rate novelist.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Nearly every paragraph is laced through with dense, gorgeously evocative descriptions of a vanished world and steeped in its own vivid vocabulary.”—Entertainment Weekly

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 idealistic 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.

This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.

Advance praise for The Water Dancer

“In prose that sings and imagination that soars, Coates further cements himself as one of this generation’s most important writers, tackling one of America’s oldest and darkest periods with grace and inventiveness. This is bold, dazzling, and not to be missed.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Coates brings his considerable talent for racial and social analysis to his debut novel, which captures the brutality of slavery and explores the underlying truth that slaveholders could not dehumanize the enslaved without also dehumanizing themselves. Beautifully written, this is a deeply and soulfully imagined look at slavery and human aspirations.”—Booklist (starred review)

Fiction & Literature
September 24
Random House Publishing Group
Penguin Random House LLC

Customer Reviews

nicklutsch ,

Check it out

Haven’t been in a book club in a while, so when I saw Oprah was starting hers up again, I was excited to join along! The book was very interesting, a good interesting. I loved how the book pulled you in a brought raw emotion up in each chapter. Definitely something to check out, if you are in need of a good read!

HeatherJubbs ,

I wish it would never end

Starting the book describing slaves as the Tasked and the white land owners as Quality enabled a space for people of all backgrounds to open their minds to hearing from a slave’s point of view.

The story flows beautifully. I cried, I felt anger, loss and wanted nothing more than for Hiram’s freedom. Race relations in the US are a difficult conversation; reading this book is a great starting point and I only hope it becomes required reading in school. I had never realized how many main characters looked like me until this book.

Oprah’s Book Club also does an amazing job of fostering a collaborative, introspective dialogue on Instagram.

I can’t wait to read more from this author and from Oprah’s reading lists.

@DapsandPounds ,


The author does a fine job of conducting a story that sticks. I’ve read my fair share of ‘negro spirituals’ and this one for me, stands alone.

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