On Monday, September 23, Oprah Winfrey announced that The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates is the inaugural selection for the new iteration of Oprah’s Book Club, a partnership between Winfrey and Apple.
Coates appeared alongside Winfrey on CBS This Morning as the selection was made public. In a YouTube video shared on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)’s channel, Winfrey elaborated on the pick and the new book club’s mission, saying, “Reading together as a community . . . that’ll teach you things you never knew, how to see through someone else’s eyes. It’s our chance to create a conversation together, a way to know that we’re not alone, to question who and what we are, and even what we may yet be.”
The Water Dancer, now available wherever books are sold, is Coates’s first novel. It follows a young man named Hiram who is born into bondage on a Virginia plantation and learns that he possesses a supernatural ability that may prove to be the key to his freedom—if he can only learn to understand it. In the tradition of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Octavia Butler’s Kindred, The Water Dancer seamlessly fuses speculative and historical fiction in order to expose truths about America’s shameful legacy of slavery.
Coates, a former correspondent for The Atlantic, is also the author of three works of nonfiction: the memoir The Beautiful Struggle; the National Book Award–winning Between the World and Me; and We Were Eight Years in Power, a compilation of essays on the Obama era, including the landmark article “The Case for Reparations.”