The Deep

The Deep

Book - 2019 | First Saga Press hardcover edition
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"The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society -- and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the [...] song "The Deep" from Daveed Diggs's rap group clipping. Yetu holds the memories for her people -- water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners -- who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one -- the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu. Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities -- and discovers a world her people left behind long ago. Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past -- and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they'll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity -- and own who they really are. Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode "We Are In The Future," The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting." -- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Saga Press, 2019
Edition: First Saga Press hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781534439863
1534439862
Branch Call Number: F SOLOM-R
Characteristics: 166 pages ; 22 cm

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c
Cori_Roberts
Nov 27, 2020

Excellent book with probably the most original concept I've read in a few years at least. I think a lot of the reason that others might not have enjoyed this book as much as I did is that they may have expected a fantasy story about mermaids. It is, to be fair, a fantasy story about mermaids. But the point of the book, at least from my interpretation, wasn't to describe an underwater world with coral cities and a mermaid civilization. It was to discuss race, the legacy of slavery, generational trauma, and the price of memory. I could not recommend this book enough.

r
RebelBelle13
Nov 12, 2020

I had to sit on this one for a day or so to gather my thoughts to talk about it. I went in not sure that I would like it, since I'm not a huge fan of mermaids. The idea was intriguing enough- the mermaid's ancestors were the pregnant slaves thrown overboard during the slave trade, and the babies born from them developed into mermaids. I think the thing that hit me the most was the whys behind it. Is this our world? Is the water magical? How did it turn humans into mermaids? Where is Yetu's home? Does her interaction with Oori take place in the far future, or the present? What is this war between humans and mermaids that was talked about? What happened? There are too many unanswered questions here, and they all could have been answered IF THE BOOK WERE LONGER. There are just way too many knowledge gaps for me to enjoy the story or find it believable. The book is a measly 160 pages. It would have been a beautiful, in depth, well rounded story at 200 pages more. It was also confusing. The story bounced from present to past, and I had trouble following what the heck was happening. A heading for the chapter or a little more explanation would have been key. The other thing that grinds my gears... four authors? Really? The music group wrote a song that inspired Rivers to write the story. Ok, so name them on the dedication page. Acknowledge them at the end. You don't need to have them as co-authors on a 160 page book. That's just absurd, and feels like a shameless plug in to sell the music group.
There's a few good things here. The inclusivity, in terms of gender roles and sexuality was wonderful, and flowed well with the story- it didn't feel forced or shoe-horned. The historians and the ceremony of the sharing of the history was a wonderfully unique idea. The way the mermaids talk- through electricity, makes sense and is something I haven't seen suggested before.
All in all, great ideas, but confusingly put together and at an unsatisfying length.

s
samcmar17
Sep 16, 2020

In this short and intense science ficion novel, mermaids are descendants of African Slaves.
Yetu, our heroine, can feel the horrific pasts of these slaves. She is a historian of the Wajinru people, whose memories are passed down to keep this traumatic history alive and unforgotten. In a situation where these memories may be destroyed by outside forces, Yetu must help her people reclaim their identities and work through the trauma to survive. This book is short, but it completely packs an emotion punch. I found it moving and even difficult to read at times. Uncomfortable and powerful, The Deep asks readers to look beyond their privilege and ask themselves why history must constantly repeat itself.

e
EljayJohnson
Sep 06, 2020

Techno-electro music group Drexciya created the mythology and an original "soundtrack"; experimental rap group clipping. composed and performed their song "The Deep" inspired by Drexciya's work; and Rivers Solomom wrote this fable as a reaction to clipping.'s work. THIS IS NOT A MERMAID BOOK. (I've read so many "disappointed" reviews where they just "didn't like the mermaids"...) Solomon powerfully uses fantasy about the water-breathing, sea creature descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard during the Atlantic crossing to discuss the historical and generational trauma of the descendants of enslaved people. Poetic and emotive, but I felt like it lost its way at times.

k
KatG1983
Jul 09, 2020

Rivers Solomon has written a beautiful prose about the legacy of slaves who were thrown overboard from slave ships travelling from Africa to America. It is an incredible illustration of the concept of generational trauma, embedded in ones DNA. It is a short read, but packed with emotion.

a
AConsolver
Jun 11, 2020

CW - self harm, attempted suicide. Alluded to.

3-3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy unique fantasy, with vivid world building. This is a novella, but it felt more like a short full length novel to me.

Yetu is the historian of the underwater people descended from slaves thrown overboard from their captor's ships. She bears the weight of their entire history, and it is taking it's toll on her. She is emaciated and has forgotten about the yearly remembering ceremony, where she gives the people of her world the history, and is free of its burden for a short time. She makes the incomprehensible choice to flee to freedom, but can she leave her people to her former suffering? What will happen if they cannot contain the history and end their society as the world knows it?

Wow, first of all, what a unique concept for a fantasy novel. It pulled me in immediately, and the history gives a second meaning to the story that follows. I was very interested in the world that was created and the magic of their history as well. I connected to Yetu's anxiety and overwhelm, but did have a hard time relating to her journey within the novel. While it was very interesting, and short, I didn't find myself having trouble putting it down. It had sort of a slow pace, that I was having trouble connecting with at this time. The way everything came together in the end was very satisfying and and felt relatively powerful. I will say, even with as much as a romance lover as I am... I don't think this story needed the romance. The connections that were made could have been achieved in other ways. I'm not against it, but it felt like a little bit of an afterthought, or an extra. Overall this this book is a really interesting new piece of fantasy. I recommend it if you are looking for something different and engaging.

satx_bookshark May 10, 2020

Rivers Solomon + mermaids = amazing book. I did go into this book expecting more of a ... fantastical story. However, this book simply uses fantastical elements (mermaids) to discuss the really hard and gut-wrenching topic of suppression of history and oppression of a people. But more importantly how these oppressed people survived and adapted and made a new way of life for themselves in the ocean. The book is short, but it has a lot of weight and really, REALLY makes the reader think and consider the social undercurrents (pun intended) the book is discussing.

SPL_Robyn Mar 03, 2020

Blind Date with a Book 2020 comment by borrower:
"This was a surprisingly good story."

b
ballew03
Feb 21, 2020

“Forgetting was not the same thing as healing”
.
The Wajinru, a sea-dwelling community, are descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard. This slim novella goes on to explore memories, survival, healing, and the burden of generational trauma. It’s a powerful metaphor, and reads almost like a dream. I loved everything about this book. I started it on audio, which helped with the world-building.

c
ckapadia
Feb 06, 2020

The longer the book went on the further it went from what I was expecting. I don't recommend the audiobook, Diggs can't handle doing so many voices and it also comes across as he's reading to an audience of children. I'm not certain the exact intended audience for this, I suppose it's okay for YA/tweens (the book states facts about violence but actual graphic imagery is somewhat limited), but I found his tone grating and probably would've enjoyed the written version more.

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