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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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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.

2 people found this helpful

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Poetry brought to life

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

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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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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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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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What happened to the editor?

A rambling story, with too many poorly drawn characters and too much utterly pointless dialogue. It is difficult to comprehend how this novel came to be published in this shape. Such a disappointment!

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A tale of beauty within the tale of evil.

Joe Morton brings this story to life with his powerful skills of narration. Ta-Nehisi weaves the magical threads of ancient slave lore, mythology, musicality, tradition and survival into a tale of stoicism, resilience, pride and ultimate redemption. He bears no grudge and there is no hint of revenge (even though there is every reason for both) and it becomes an absolute lesson in dignity and integrity in the face of monsters. These are lessons we all should learn.

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stunning work.

Loved this book!
wonderful storyline done in a wonderfully authentic manner. Should become a standard of our time.

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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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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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  • 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.