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Anita Kopacz Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Shallow Waters (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Picture Books

Angels Live on Fans (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Anita Kopacz is a highly acclaimed author and an esteemed spiritual counselor known for her exceptional literary work. Her impressive career includes serving as the former Editor-in-Chief of Heart & Soul Magazine and as the Managing Editor of BeautyCents Magazine. When she’s not passionately crafting words, she can often be found gracefully moving on the dance floor or exploring various corners of the globe with her beloved children. Anita’s home base is in the vibrant heart of New York City, where she resides with her loving family.
Anita Kopacz’s debut novel, “Shallow Waters,” offers a vivid reinterpretation of Yemaya, a revered Orisha from the Yoruba religion, and her role in American history. The story of Yemaya passed down through generations via oral tradition, found its way to the “New World” with enslaved Africans as early as the 16th century. In “Shallow Waters,” Yemaya takes on bodily form and embarks on a journey to the United States, not as a captive transported through the transatlantic slave trade but as a mermaid, closely following the pirate ships carrying stolen souls.

Yemaya, also known as Yemoja, is the mother of all Orishas and is the divine entity of the waters, particularly associated with Nigeria’s Ogun River. Kopacz’s imaginative narrative sees Yemaya rescued from captivity by a young boy named Obatala, who, amazed by her presence, releases her from a fishing net before she can be trapped. Years later, when Obatala is captured by the ships, Yemaya pursues them, intending to reciprocate his act of kindness. Recognizing that her mermaid form would bewilder humans, she undergoes a challenging transformation into a human to continue her quest. Her awakening leads her to a community of Indigenous people who comprehend her significance and provide her with care, enlightening her that her journey has only just commenced. Obatala’s capture catalyzes Yemaya’s odyssey, while the remainder of the novel unfolds a path marked by significant milestones and encounters with historical luminaries.

Kopacz employs traditional folktale techniques to craft a vibrant world for Yemaya as she traverses the United States, from the Trail of Tears and waypoints along the Underground Railroad to meetings with iconic figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederick Douglass. While cameo appearances might initially appear as a gimmick, they prove to be clever choices, as these figures assist Yemaya in navigating pivotal moments in history. Yemaya’s presence centralizes the role of a Black woman within the context of memorable historical events. She becomes instrumental in understanding why certain historical events occurred and their ultimate success, making her an equally unforgettable character. Yemaya’s journey becomes a story intertwined with American history, transcending the confines of Black history alone.
The concept of a mermaid transforming into a human to seek love may evoke thoughts of a certain red-haired Disney princess with a fascination for human culture. However, Yemaya predates Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and Hans Christian Andersen’s eponymous short story. Yemaya symbolizes healing from lifelong trauma, both physical and cultural. She possesses the power to mend her wounds and those of others. She heals Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ailments, inspiring him to write more profoundly. Yemaya confronts the novel’s “villain,” a ruthless plantation owner who has never lost any of his enslaved “property,” and heals her battered body to save a generation of enslaved Black individuals.

Water is the wellspring of her power, much like the Earth’s sun is to Superman. The idea that people who have endured captivity and the harrowing journey to the U.S. by sea can survive and thrive here is profoundly transcendent. Yemaya’s ability to heal physical and emotional scars inflicted by a painful history is a powerful allegory. Kopacz’s storytelling aims to replace the prevailing imagery of Black, Brown, and Indigenous bodies bound in chains with a counter-narrative of resilience and healing. “Shallow Waters” weaves a fictional yet poignant tale of Yemaya, the African sea goddess, as she follows her love onto a slave ship, transforms into a human, endures slavery, and travels the Underground Railroad—all while determined to find her one true love and save her people.

In today’s context, Yemaya’s continued relevance is evident in the ongoing debate surrounding casting a Black woman as Ariel in a new live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” This underscores the importance of storytelling and tradition, emphasizing the need for multiple narratives and perspectives. Kopacz reinforces this point by employing the framing device of oral history, emphasizing that we hear these stories because they are told. This aligns with the contemporary discourse on Critical Race Theory, highlighting the significance of acknowledging and sharing untold stories. Just as water is essential for growth, we all require a source of knowledge to nourish our cultural heritage and understanding.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Anita Kopacz

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