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The Water Dancer

Narrated by: Joe Morton
Length: 14 hrs and 14 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (59 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

What listeners say about The Water Dancer

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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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Powerful

The writing is so powerful and poetic, with the book providing insight into the psychological impacts of slavery and racism.

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Loved it

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

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  • xan
  • 23-10-2019

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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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.

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  • Yas
  • 13-12-2019

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
  • 14-10-2019

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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  • Miss J. Stafford
  • 08-10-2020

Deliciously good

I have given 5☆ to narrators previously, however having now listened to this they are left in the water. Just astonishingly good at doing different voices and the singing sounds terrific. great book to have as an audio book. First time reading this author and loved it.

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  • Elle
  • 14-06-2020

Poetry brought to life

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

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  • Neozoe
  • 04-02-2020

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.

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  • Steve Hocking
  • 25-01-2020

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.

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  • B Capela
  • 23-01-2020

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-09-2020

A whirlwind of history and power

A whirlwind of tragedy, hope resilience! A slow start but such an epic tale that will really give you insight into some of the unsaid things of human pain.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-09-2020

Poetic and Important

Strongly recommended. This is a book about the Underground Railroad told through the point of view of one of the agents, an ex-slave. It is written in an almost poetic literary style and I felt transported to early nineteenth century America. I can imagine this being made into an excellent film, as there is much dialogue, character description and action, plus an added ingredient which I shan't reveal to you here! Although written from the viewpoint of a man, the woman's experience is emphasised greatly, giving a fair view to both genders in a non-clunky way.

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  • Aisha Christison
  • 10-06-2020

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
  • 19-05-2020

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
  • 27-04-2020

Outstanding

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