November Discussion: The Water Dancer

Join us this month for a discussion about The Water Dancer by by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Previously writing award-winning non-fiction books and for Marvel comics, this is actually Coates’ debut novel, and one that straddles the genres of historical and science fiction. A review on NPR describes the book as “a surrealist story set in the pre–Civil War South, concerning a superhuman protagonist named Hiram Walker who possesses photographic memory, but who cannot remember his mother, and is able to transport people over long distances by using a power known as “conduction” which can fold the Earth like fabric and allows him to travel across large areas via waterways.”

We’d love to hear what you think:

  1. The Water Dancer creates a complex and nuanced dialogue about freedom. What does it mean to be free? What responsibilities come with freedom?
  2. Concepts of motherhood and fatherhood are presented in the novel. How do you define family?
  3. Truth and the difficulty facing and accepting what is true is another central theme. How is this also central to our Canadian history?
  4. Water is a major symbol in the novel. Within our broader culture, what meaning does water carry?

Please share your comments and thoughts here or on social media or by by emailing us at We love hearing from you!

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