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The Water Dancer

Written by: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Narrated by: Joe Morton
Length: 14 hrs and 14 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Winner of the 2020 Audie Award for Literary Fiction & Classics.

Every slave plantation is a house of spies and intrigue. No slave walks a straight line or has a single story - deep within their hearts is betrayal and insurrection. But against whom?

Hiram Walker is a man with a gift and a curse. He was born between worlds: his father a white plantation master, his mother a black slave. And, unbeknown even to himself, he was born with a special power. When he is sold to a new mistress as punishment for attempting escape, Hiram discovers her home is a secret hub of the underground railroad: a training ground for its agents.

Hiram fast becomes a highly skilled agent, retrieving the enslaved from the most dangerous circumstances and gradually learning to harness his power - but betrayals lurk everywhere. And eventually Hiram must risk everything to return to his father's plantation and free the friends he left behind.

©2019 Ta-Nehisi Coates (P)2019 Penguin Audio
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Yas
  • 13-12-19

An old tale of slavery told like never before

This yet another old tale of slavery but told like never before. It's depiction of the free slaves underground network is classic & holds the different individual tales together. This a masterful performance by Morton.

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  • Helena Lindgren
  • 14-10-19

Fantastic story and narration

Can’t stop listening to this story, it’s characters that become so alive and the narration adding a level to the mesmerising world of people. Truly fantastic.

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  • Neozoe
  • 04-02-20

Masterfully delivered

The performance was exhilarating! The singing especially so!
I don't know if fictionalizing the underground railroad to freedom and mystifying Harriet Tubman is the best call but I do know it certainly softens the narrative of slavery or as the author innocuously calls it 'The Task".
The dichotomy between the tasked and the quality is masterfully rendered: Curious would-be-saviors, like Corrine Quinn, have dubious motives which makes them the victims and not the tasked that they wish to free. Well played!
I do look forward to more.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Steve Hocking
  • 25-01-20

An interesting thought provoking work.

I enjoyed aspects of this work and it’s beautifully written. I didn’t enjoy the spy aspects and mystical elements. It is though a fascinating perspective on a subject I have read very little on. The performance of the book was first rate, it really brings it alive.

1 person found this helpful

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  • B Capela
  • 23-01-20

Amazing

I have learned so much about the experiences of the people that were traded for profit. But the book is not about what was done to them but about what they did mixed together with supernatural, romance and love. Joe Morton is superb and the perfect voice to read this story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elle
  • 14-06-20

Poetry brought to life

Morton's sensitive, sonorous performance takes this extraordinary, moving, profound tale and gives it wings.

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  • Aisha Christison
  • 10-06-20

Exceptional

My heart is full. I want more. Beautiful story and performance. The blending of fact and fiction is worked so well.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-05-20

Gripping story

Excellent book, gives a small look into the lives of slaves in America and what they would do and sacrifice to be free.

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  • RosePetal86
  • 27-04-20

Outstanding

I really didn’t want this audio book to end what a journey. Narrator was great too keep me interested.

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  • Foxy cleopatra
  • 28-03-20

Fair

Well read but the story was confusing and several characters were not entirely well rounded.

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  • Ingrid E. Sizemore
  • 28-03-20

fabulous story

Fascinating story! I couldn't stop listening to this deeply touching narrative. I know I will want to listen to this one again.

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  • OLA
  • 17-03-20

Incredible!

Amazing storytelling - very rich in texture.
Powerful descriptive ability of the author deserves any award received.
Unforgettable!

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  • Marian
  • 01-05-20

Great hopes that lead to disappointment

I haven't yet read any of Ta-Nehesi Coates' other works but I have heard great things about them and so I was quite excited to read The Water Dancer, especially considering the very difficult and very real themes of slavery and the American South.

However, this book just did not resonate with me. I wanted to love it. I wanted to connect with it. But the characters were not very well developed and the story itself was not very well crafted. It meandered, was not rooted to anything, and only hit at the themes at a superficial level.

It's not with ease that I give such little stars, but I was wholly disappointed in this read/listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Diddles
  • 16-02-20

Loved it

An engrossing tale, told with a deep understanding of history. The narrator is brilliant.

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  • xan
  • 23-10-19

Brilliant.

A masterpiece. Reminiscent of Frederick Douglass, with threads of fantasy artfully woven in. An important narrative blending painful reality with poignant symbolism. Powerfully feminist in a way that male written and focused stories about this era often fail to be.
Joe Morton's performance is transporting and lends texture to the story that I'm sure reading the text alone would not have given me. You really should read this book.

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  • samantha bryant
  • 06-11-19

Possibly better visual than audible

I struggled to listen to the narrator who moved between accentuating every single syllable in a completely verbose manner to sounding as though he has never had a moment's education..the latter situation probably being the case, as he was brought up by his black nanny.

I think that for me I would have gained more from this book by reading it.. I found that the narrator overshadowed the story and I couldn't get away from him and get lost in the book.

I also couldn't understand half of it.