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Ta-nehisi Coates Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Water Dancer (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Between the World and Me (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Ta Nehisi Coates

Ta Nehisi Coates is an American author of historical fiction books best known for his standalone debut novel, The Water Dancer. He’s also the author of the number-one New York Times bestselling book Between the World and Me that was also a finalist for the National Magazine Award. Additionally, he has won the Hillman Prize for Analysis Journalism, National Magazine Award and George Polk Award for his story The Case of Reparations. He lives in New York with his family- wife, and son.

The Water Dancer

From its beautifully crafted cover art to its intricate yet simple plot steeped in tragedy, Coates’s book feels like a relinquishing of life and soul as the pages are infused with the breath of its creator with words dancing to form the human shape of those who paid the ultimate price. The Water Dancer is one of the most influential books you’ll ever read about slavery.

The author nails down the tribulations of slavery when he concentrates on the emotions of Hiram Walker, a girl who is separated from his mother Rose when she is sold to slavery. Hiram is only nine years old. Then Coates shifts his focus on an older woman known as Thena, whose five of her kids are sent Natchez away; she transforms into the meanest and hard to crack shell of a woman until one day when the gaze breaks that shell of boy who has no mother. How much can your body take?

Hiram’s Caucasian father is the Howell is the master of the plantation called Lockless. When riding through the Street, his son calls attention to himself by imitating his elders in response song and a call. Howell flips him a coin, and Hiram thinks that the coin is a way out from slave life. But it’s not long before Hiram is called to the big house to take lessons alongside his brother, Maynard, and serve as Maynard’s protector. It’s quite a task because Maynard is slow, dull and has been spoiled by superficial living while Hiram is smart. Hiram thinks that his white father is ashamed to have such intelligence show up in his black son while his white son struggles with schoolwork and everyday life.

Hiram has several gifts. The first is the gift of memorization. He can recreate a drawing from his memory or tell a whole story word by word. He can tell each card from a deck of cards and even remember all the symbols in a carved box of disc. His other gift is where Coates introduces the element of magical realism. During the entire story, Hiram will learn how to bring this gift forward and how to utilize it. When the author writes about Hiram’s gifts, he’s able to evoke a storm of emotions in the main character.

Most power structures incorporate violence as a means to bring balance. The powerless person learns how to use a gun, grows muscles, or enlists the service of a Mob. In an interview published online, Ta-Nehisi Coates says that he wanted to write something different and attributes part of his work to Isabel Wilkerson’s novel The Warmth of the Other Suns, which much helped him understand the positive side of resistance. Therefore, Coates uses mythology and writes something bigger than violence, something that surpasses violence. But it’s vital always to remember that we can never forget the tragedies and sufferings that have already been inflicted so that they are never repeated.

We need books like Water Dancer because humans tend to forget too soon. One of the most significant impacts of this novel was how it gave a glimpse of how the white masters operated the plantation system. How they degenerated the soil until nothing would grow and how they undermined themselves. When the plantations could no longer sustain them, they began to sell their slaves and migrated westward, looking for new land and people rob.

Hats off to Ta-Nehisi Coates for creating a cast of complex characters, from Thena the meanest woman to Sophia the subject to Nathaniel Walker, who becomes Hiram’s love interest but makes it clear from the start that she belongs to no man. Coates writes as though he knows everything about the emotional life of both men and women and through this he’s woven one of the best books about slavery.

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