Shallow Waters

Anita Kopacz. Black Privilege, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-982179-66-3
Kopacz’s stirring debut novel (after Finding Your Way: Alphabetical Keys to the Divine) features an Orïsha, a Yoruba deity of the sea, who was “ripped from the water” and became a young Black woman engulfed in the violent maelstrom of 1849 America. Yemaya witnesses a tribe of fisherman along with Obatala, the father of all Orïshas, being abducted by slave traders, and is “overcome by the sheer terror and hopelessness,” before being captured herself. Kopacz then describes the horrors Yemaya witnesses on a series of ships across the Atlantic and along trade routes in the U.S., where her captors eventually place her in a tent somewhere on land. She escapes, and Richard Dillingham, a white Quaker, comes to her aid and tells her about the Underground Railroad. Yemaya then goes on a quest to find Obatala while continuing to navigate a strange world where magic is real (after she breaks her ankle, she heals it by rubbing mucas on it into a cast) and cruelty abounds. All of these events are framed by Yemaya’s confusion at her new reality: “What is slavery? Is a Negro another word for an African?” she wonders. It’s a riveting and heartbreaking story strengthened by Kopacz’s superb ability to create a sense of place. Fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Water Dancer will want to take a look. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/14/2021
Release date: 08/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-2540-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-2542-8
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