The Water Dancer

Ta-Nehisi Coates| Fiction, 2019

416 pages


The writing is eloquent; the story of the Underground and of Conduction and The Task is fascinating.  You will know the main character deeply, Hiram Walker, when you finish The Water Dancer.  Based on a true tale of slavery and the urge for freedom, I wonder how much is fiction and how much is true.  The dramatic story is infused with magic; I am so curious about the author’s intention!

Just over half-way in, I think Coates loses his footing.  The book becomes more about the institution of the Underground Railway.  Even though we see everything through Hiram’s eyes, I feel less connected to him for a significant number of chapters. Plus, I find the growing cast of characters a bit confusing.   Ultimately, we wind up back in Walker’s character with strength and power to wrap up the conclusion.

Tough decision .... three hearts or four?  I decided on four because of the writing, the story, and the character development (not only Walker, but some other characters as well). Perhaps my getting lost was just me .... I choose to give Coates the benefit of the doubt.  This is Coates first novel, though he has written non-fiction. Have you read anything by him?