Our mothers were pregnant African women thrown overboard while
crossing the Atlantic Ocean on slave ships. We were born
breathing water as we did in the womb. We built our home on the
sea floor, unaware of the two-legged surface dwellers until
their world came to destroy ours. With cannons, they searched
for oil beneath our cities. Their greed and recklessness forced
our uprising. Tonight, we remember
lyrics of The Deep by clipping
From an EDM concept album by Drexciya to a rap song by clipping to a novella by Rivers Solomon. The premise: An underwater world populated by the children of slaves who were thrown overboard on the journey across the Atlantic. Each artist has taken Drexciya’s world and created their own stories inside it.
The Deep focuses on the character of Yetu who is the Historian of the wajinru, the mermaid descendants of the slaves. She holds the memories of all the others of the community and once a year they hold the Remembrance in which Yetu bonds with all of the wajinru. It is an emotional ceremony that bares Yetu’s soul to the rest of the group… it is painful and the burden of holding six hundred years worth of memories is something she doesn’t think she can handle any longer. Yet, she is one of a long line of Historians and the responsibility is heavy… What will she do? The individual strain vs the obligation to hold the collective mythos and traditions…
In under two hundred pages, Solomon crafts a mesmerizing piece of Afrofuturism about memory, power, and the collective group. I was blown away by the worldbuilding and the chilling intersection of history and fantasy. Solomon also has a way of describing movement of the characters through and around the water, a perfect depiction of the waves and currents as a metaphor for the various character’s emotions.
Yetu is young woman who is thrust into this role of Historian by the community and the prior person in that role. Even after an attempted suicide brought on the pressure of holding that weight, she continues to be forced to do the task. What revelations will she have over the course of the novella?
A supernatural journey through history and a young mermaid’s internal conflicts, The Deep is a book of haunting revelations and gripping worldbuilding.
5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, Saga Press, and the authors for an advanced copy for review.