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 novella inspired by the Hugo Award-nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’s rap group clipping.
Immersive, gut-wrenching, and poetic ... even more remarkable in the uncanny way it crosses over between media. But what makes the novel more than just a winning exercise in multimedia storytelling is the way this collective narrative mirrors the way Yetu and the wajinru amass memories, store them in the historians, then relive them together once a year ... For all its complexity in origin and concept, The Deep is an elegantly concise and simple novel. Yetu's plight is an essential, emotionally fraught conflict between duty and sacrifice, between tradition and progress, between the individual and the common good, and between vengeance and forgiveness. Furthermore, enjoying the story doesn't require any foreknowledge of clipping., Drexciya, or the mythology of the wajinru that precedes it; while those elements certainly enrich the novel, Solomon's text stands alone as a wise, daring, touching, and important addition to the Afrofuturist canon, and one that carries its own rhythmic and melodic grace — not to mention a wholly relevant and righteous gravity.
... inspired by and at the same time something new. In a way it feels like Afrofuturism with a folklore twist ... The Deep’s slim page count disguises the depth of the work within. Rivers Solomon conjures a vast world in her latest novella, one where history and present day collide and love can change lives. The text is ever-changing as the ocean itself. Shifting from third person to first person plural, at times it feels as lyrical as the song from whence it came. The story unbalances and redefines. It will trail in your wake long after you finish it. Yetu is a force to behold, and I for one am immensely grateful that Solomon allowed us to witness her story.
... a quick read that you’ll wish you could live in for much longer ... manages to say more with its relatively small word count than some multi-novel series I’ve read ... The book wastes no time pulling you in with its unique, poetic language. It takes you under so quickly that you might even feel like you’re drowning and gasping for air, trying to stay afloat, until you start to get a feel for the world, the characters, and the writing style. When you do catch your breath, you’ll be amazed by the beautiful vastness of the text, much like the depths of the ocean in which the story is set ... It’s rare that I find myself so thoroughly entertained by a story that focuses so entirely on one character, but Yetu’s perspective is so special, seamlessly shifting between memories, the mundane, and mindful introspection, that I was kept on my toes from start to finish ... successfully builds a world that feels real enough that you can ask yourself about these things alongside the characters, without feeling like you’re being spoon-fed anything ... a beautifully written novella that will such you in and leave you begging for more.