By Rivers Solomon with David Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes
NOVEMBER 5, 2019 • 166 Pages
Rivers Solomon brings us a Sci-Fi/Fantasy of the tragedies and harsh realities of slavery, generational trauma, and the pain of remembering. And despite how lyrical and beautiful the language of this novella is, I was sort of waiting for it to be over.
The Wajinru are water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners. They are a new society that has adapted to the depths of the ocean. The message of this story is strong and clear and vital: To claim your future, you have to remember your past and the history of your people, even if it hurts. It is a shared blessing and responsibility.
I love how Solomon uses pain and remembering as vehicles for both separation and connection. The suffering of the characters are poignant, well conveyed and believable. The premise, overall, is unique and would have been AMAZING as a full length novel.
BUT I found the pace to be slow and overwrought with repetitiveness and lack of focus. There’s a lot of telling and not enough showing. The fragmented narrative also makes it difficult for me to connect with Yetu, our protagonist (or anyone else in the novella, really) because it shifts often from her flashbacks, to another character’s POV, to present day, and then back to her internal musings about the morality of her decisions. We spend most of the story in Yetu’s head and her thoughts aren’t all that diversified. The instances where she is interacting with others, especially Oori, were engaging, meaningful, and captivating, but it was all so metaphorical that I couldn’t ground myself in its reality.
The Deep is altogether provocative, poetic, and great for discussion, but in the end, I was still left wanting more.
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