The Sweetness of Water
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE AND SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 2021, OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK AND BARACK OBAMA 2021 SELECTION
‘A fine, lyrical novel, impressive in its complex interweaving of the grand and the intimate, of the personal and political’ Observer
Landry and Prentiss are two brothers born into slavery, finally freed as the American Civil War draws to its bitter close. Cast into the world without a penny to their names, their only hope is to find work in a society that still views them with nothing but intolerance.
Farmer George Walker and his wife Isabelle are reeling from a loss that has shaken them to their core. After a chance encounter, they agree to employ the brothers on their land, and slowly the tentative bonds of trust begin to blossom between the strangers.
But this sanctuary survives on a knife’s edge, and it isn’t long before a tragedy causes the inhabitants of the nearby town to turn their suspicion onto these new friendships, with devastating consequences.
An Oprah Book Club Pick
‘[A] highly accomplished debut’ Sunday Times
Readers have been swept away by The Sweetness of Water:
‘Such a powerful, magnificent book; I urge you to read it. The comparisons with Colson Whitehead are justified’ *****
‘A staggering debut and a story that stays with you’ *****
‘Thought-provoking and moving . . . a gripping and compelling novel that exposes flaws, mixed emotions and imperfect relationships, and yet it holds on with determination and hope. It fully deserves a 5-star rating’ *****
‘Outstanding . . . A book that deserves widespread recognition and a wide audience’ *****
What a gifted, assured writer Nathan Harris is. He does what all novelists are supposed to do-give birth to vivid characters, people worth caring about, and then get out of their way. The result is better than any debut novel has a right to be. With The Sweetness of Water, Harris has, in a sense, unwritten Gone With the Wind, detonating its phony romanticism, its unearned sympathies, its wretched racism -- Richard Russo Harris' lucid prose and vivid characterization illustrate a community at war with itself, poisoned by pride and mired in racial and sexual bigotry. . . Harris' first novel is an aching chronicle of loss, cruelty, and love in the wake of community devastation * Booklist, starred review * To open Nathan Harris's first novel is to enter a trance. I can't think of any other book out there quite like it. The richness of his language and the exquisite details of the lives he creates produce a kind of waking dream, equally lyrical and threatening -- Luis Alberto Urrea [An] ambitious debut . . . Harris writes in intelligent, down-to-earth prose and shows a keen understanding of his characters . . . Credible and deeply moving * Publishers Weekly, starred review * An impressive debut by a storyteller with bountiful insight and assurance * Kirkus * [The book's] grave beauty is evident immediately * Library Journal *
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