Submitted by Paulyetta Freeman

In a world least explored by man is where the water-dwelling Wajinru people live in Rivers Solomon’s  The Deep. This is not your typical mermaid fantasy. Instead, this work of speculative fiction delves into the violence of The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. The author revisions the fate of the pregnant enslaved African women that were thrown overboard and the infants they carried. Solomon’s work inspires its readers to ask what if, in a sphere that has been marred by traumatic experiences.

Chosen since the tender age of fourteen, the book’s protagonist Yetu is called upon to solely remember the Wajinru’s dark history. As Historian, Yetu must recall year after year until her death dreams, memories, and suffering of the first mothers as well as all those that have come after them. As the descendants of those cast aside, the events from six centuries ago is considered too much of a burden for the Wajinru people as a whole to bear. The Wajinru long to forget that which made them become. Meanwhile, Yetu holds the past, the present, and the future in her ability to strongly feel and connect. Due to the harsh challenges remembering presents, Yetu leaves her home to journey upwards into the unknown. Solomon’s use of memory and spirituality as thematic topics emphasizes the ebb and flow of history. Where the story centers on linear conversation, Solomon takes great care and patience to curate a story that avoids stagnation. The author allows the subaltern to speak not from the idyllic cords of those who have only known joy, but also from those who understand anger as a mechanism for growth.

By confronting generational trauma through the amalgamation style of magical realism, the reader is led to believe that a completely new thing can happen in a modern setting. Without falling victim to the mundane mythological story, Solomon spins a refreshing tale of heroism as Yetu chooses herself. Much more than a book of pain, The Deep is a piece of historical fiction that showcases the resilience of a people without the written word, but a determination to rise. Solomon’s work, while short in length is long in a rich text that hinges on the survival of a people and their legacy.

You can find this title in the GCPL catalog here: