Book Review - The Water Dancer - Magical - 2019 - Much Ado About Everything
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Book Review – The Water Dancer – Magical – 2019

by AniM
Book reviewThe Water Dancer
 

Book Review – The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

My Rating – 3.8 out of 5

This book is set in a place called Starfall, Elm County in Virginia during the pre-Civil War days. The estate where it starts is known as Lockless and the main protagonist is Hiram Walker, a slave born to a slave mother and the owner of Lockless, Howell Walker!
Like many other slavery time stories coming out of America, Mr. Coates lays out the social structure of those times quite well. On top, are the Quality, the white, plantation and slave owners who decide the future of the slaves they own. Then come the Low Whites, poor, uneducated white people employed by the Quality to supervise the slaves working in the plantations. Then are the Freed, slaves who have bought their freedom and have no longer to work as slaves. Then the lowest – Tasked, slaves who have no rights and are barely treated as human beings.
If you did a long think about the slavery system, you’d realise that it has brutalised, oppressed, humiliated and de-humanised an entire race just based on their skin colour, and with similar undertones, continues to discriminate even to this day and time. But I digress…
There is one unique element added to this expansive novel on and about slavery – the protagonist, Hiram, is blessed with two almost superpowers – a photographic memory and a magical ability to transport oneself, and others too, from one place to another – known as Conduction!This comes to fore more clearly when Howell’s son Maynard and Hiram meet with a car accident and Maynard dies in the river Goose and Hiram is magically transported to safety.
Hiram gets recruited to an underground anti-slavery movement aptly named as the Underground Railroad, run by neighbouring plantation owner and white Quality lady Corinne, who was once betrothed to Maynard. From here Hiram’s journey to free himself and his adoptive family begins, through this underground movement which takes from his native deep South to the colder North, running from one guerilla cell to another. It is here in the North, that Hiram discovers capitalism is an evil on its own, with its own bondages running deep into the psyche. It makes slaves of all, because greed is the underlying motivation and the tenets of that evil run true even to this day.
The story and the adventure it encapsulates, endures even to the modern days… Our biases, prejudices and other conceptions which shape our mindset and attitude, enslave us still and it would probably require Magic in some form to truly liberate us…
This is a pretty long read and at times it meanders and slows down considerably, but the thoughts resonate, the reasonings jar a few sleeping brain cells, so go for it but prepare to spend a long time with it, first to read the book and then ruminate over what you’ve read.

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