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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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GRAPHIC BRUTAL HISTORY

This is a beautifully written story, recommended to me by a friend and reflecting the sad truth of our history. It got too brutal for me and I couldnt finish it

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Transported to another time and place

I thoroughly enjoyed this audible production. Sad for it to end. It was great to have a better understanding of this painful part of human history

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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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  • Ann
  • 18-06-2021

Great story but lost its way

Really enjoyed the first half, but it became a bit of a struggle to stay with it as I felt it went off course and because increasingly convoluted.
It picked up again in the last couple of chapters but I was rewarded for my staying power with a very abrupt ending which really disappointed me!

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  • arthur Le Fol
  • 20-04-2021

Great performance

Shame the writing is so dispersed, elungated and feels pointless at time... I'd love to focus more on details and less on the whole situation.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-04-2021

Wow

I didn't know what I was getting into when I read this book and I am amazed at the writing and voice throughout the book. I highly recommend this and I loved it.

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  • xxtashxx
  • 20-03-2021

Full of hidden gems...

Hidden within the Subplot are several hidden Gems of commentary on the plight of the enslaved peoples. Written withadifferent perspective The characters are humanised and not just see us “slaves”; and there is the recurring theme of memory. In order to move forward from the trauma of slavery we must first remember our own stories. I really recommend this book to those descendants of enslaved peoples as well as anyone interested in learning our stories from our perspective.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-01-2021

5 star audio book

Most beautiful narration I have ever heard and the most beautifully written book. Couldn’t stop listening and wish it would never end .

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.