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The Deep

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,387 ratings  ·  453 reviews
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Gallery / Saga Press
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Isaiah There is a clear ending of the story. There is room for a sequel or related novels, but there is no cliff hanger or a feeling of being incomplete.…moreThere is a clear ending of the story. There is room for a sequel or related novels, but there is no cliff hanger or a feeling of being incomplete. (less)
Judah WHAT?! I've been crossing my fingers and hoping and praying that someone would take that song and develop it into something MORE for several years…moreWHAT?! I've been crossing my fingers and hoping and praying that someone would take that song and develop it into something MORE for several years now! (I'd hoped for a comic, really, just for the visuals, but totally down for a book!)(less)

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Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Giveaway win!

5 Stars isn't enough!

Water dwelling creatures who are the descendants of African slave women.

How could I not read this book.

The Deep is filled with flowery poetic language that I normally hate. Flowery language often comes off sounding pretentious and it usually leaves me rolling my eyes. But that flowery type of language fits The Deep just perfectly.

The Deep is a modern day take on African folklore. The same folklore that was brought to America on slave ships and passed down to

What the heck did I just read?

This novella is so unique. The feeling.
Gah! I can't even describe it.

When I first finished this book, I was blown away but also didn't really understand what I had read. Overtime, the initial feeling of overwhelming joy has petered out.

In fact, I remember very little about this. Considering the fact that I completed it just 4-days ago, seems a bit of an issue to me.

It's too bad I didn't retain more because it is such a different reading experience
Charlie Anders
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book is amazing. As a fan of Clipping and their Hugo-nominated song that this book is based on, I was already excited for this one---plus it's written by Rivers Solomon, author of An Unkindness of Ghosts. But wow, this book is intense. I won't give away any spoilers except to say that Yetu, the hero, is a unique character who is forced to make some tough choices to find herself, and ends up making a really beautiful and unexpected friendship as a result. I'm going to be thinking and ...more
Iben Frederiksen
I have mixed feeling about The Deep by Rivers Solomon.

First, I LOVED the premise of a merpeople originating from pregnant african slaves being thrown overboard - it's what really drew me into reading to book.

The story however - not much happens and the pacing is very slow. Now this is not necessarily a problem to me, but coupled with a very vague worldbuilding and a very blank slated main character, whose perspective the story is told from, I ended up spending 6 days reading this 176 page novel.
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
update: dec 3, 2019
I'm really sad about it, but I'm setting this aside at the 40% mark. It's such an incredible premise, but I'm not enjoying the actual writing much at all and I'm hoping it's just the mood that I'm in. I'll give it another try later and hopefully it'll work better for me.


I love mer-people, I love clipping., and I love every single speck of the premise for this. I need this SO BAD

(Also, if you haven't already, check out the song that inspired Rivers Solomon to write this)
Elise (TheBookishActress)
Sep 18, 2018 marked it as releases-2019
releases: June 2019
BITCH okay I was waiting I was watching I was desperate for something more by Rivers Solomon, whose work I have vowed to keep up with after loving their first book so much, and now it's HERE and I am READY
Elle Rudy
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Incredibly compelling premise, genre-bending to the point where I’m not sure that the one it was nominated in, Best Science Fiction, is the most fitting. While books centered around slavery in America but reimagined with a magical aspect have primarily fallen into the historical category, such as 2019 Best Historical Fiction nominee The Water Dancer and 2016 winner The Underground Railroad, The Deep utilizes the Trans-Atlantic slave trade as a jumping off point before delving into a full-fledged ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The Deep by Rivers Solomon is in conversation with a song by William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes and performed by Daveed Diggs, based on the underwater mythology of the 90s Detroit electro band Drexciya. (You can hear the song on Episode 623 of This American Life.)

Mercreatures descended from enslaved women murdered and thrown overboard when they were pregnant live in communities on the ocean floor, with the ability to connect telepathically. Yetu is the historian and bears the weight of the
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The Deep is kind of unique in that it is a book inspired by a song: “The Deep” by clipping.. The Deep is about Yetu, who belongs to a race of creatures that live beneath the surface of the sea, the Wajinru. They are descendants of pregnant African slave women who were thrown overboard by slave owners.

The pain of the Wajinru people goes so deep, they cannot bear to remember these events more than once a year, at an event they call The Remembering. In the mean time, the memories are held by one
This book is INCREDIBLE. I am overwhelmed by the creativity, pain, and beauty of this brief story. I only just finished, and already want to re-read it to try to absorb more of its wonder.

I won an ARC of this book in a GR giveaway.
Dawn C
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was so deeply (no pun intended) moving. I was already a fan of Rivers after An Unkindness of Ghosts, and this just cements their assured, accomplished talent. Looking forward to their next work!
wanderer (Para)
ARC received from the publisher (Saga Press) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have first heard of the book on twitter and got curious when I learned it was inspired by a song. At the time, I haven't read any of Solomon's books (though my friends have recommended me An Unkindness of Ghosts plenty) nor have I heard of Clipping. But I went and listened to The Deep - it was not my usual type and yet I liked it. I liked it a whole lot.

And the ever-important question: Was the book any
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I hate to do this but... review to come.

I finished this a couple of days ago and it's still swimming in my brain. It's a short read that packs a punch. It was a beautiful and complex message in a deceptively simple story. I know I want to read this again and I know that once my brain wraps around the experience, I'll have more to say.
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. Also, Rivers Solomon’s preferred pronoun is they/them.

I pre-ordered this novella in July, and at the time a group of people were upset that Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in the live-action Disney remake of the Little Mermaid. While people kept claiming that it was because her hair wasn’t red, the “backlash” basically bullied down to Bailey being black because some stupid/racist people thought black mermaids weren’t a thing. I was finding books about black
♠️ TABI ♠️
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rtc, netgalley
RTC but this was everything I expected.
Taylor Givens
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Yetu beckoned her downward into the dark, into this world of beauty. For most of her life, Yetu had had to shut it out, split between the past and the present, her mind unable to manage even the dullest input. But the world was infinite and magnificent, and she had finally found her place in it."

I don't know how to write a review of this. The world seems more infinite and magnificent now that I have read it.

Daveed Diggs, of Hamilton and beyond, is in an experimental, Afrofuturist, hip hop
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
A whole chorus of the deep. Wajinru. We are not zoti aleyu. We are more vast and more beauteous than that name implies. We are a song, and we are together.

The Deep is a gorgeous piece of literature mourning the tragic and traumatic history of the African slave trade, as well as celebrating a renewed sense of belonging and togetherness. This novella is crushing and beautiful and emotionally impactful beyond belief for something of its length, and I don’t think it’s possible to truly express how
Jenna Bookish
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it
My thanks to Saga Press and NetGalley for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher.

"Forgetting was not the same as healing."

The Deep is an interesting novella, inspired by a song of the same name by the hip hop group clipping. (Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Snipes, and William Hutson.)

The premise is such an interesting one, bringing a sense of hope in the face of tragedy and injustice. Some of the fantasy
Sep 17, 2018 marked it as anti-library  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs


...tells of an underwater society inhabited by descendants of African slave women.' OMGGGG
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it

Lovely, devastating, and wholly original. Thank you, netgalley, for providing me an e-ARC!! RTC very soon.
Leah Rachel von Essen
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THE DEEP by Rivers Solomon is directly inspired by the song of the same name by the group clipping., made up of Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. The song and book tell of water-dwellers descended from pregnant African slave women who were thrown overboard by slave owners: their babies were nurtured and protected by whales, and they adapted to an underwater life. In Solomon’s novel, a single person takes responsibility for holding the traumatic and violent past of the entire ...more
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
Don't be fooled by this book's short length. The Deep will punch you in the gut - and you'll thank Solomon for it after.

- Follows Yetu, a wajinru (akin to mer-people; descendants of pregnant African women who were thrown overboard during the slave trade who have no long-term memory and live in the moment), who is a Historian and holds the entire memory and history of her people - though at the cost of her wellbeing.
- Once a year, the wajinru hold the Remembrance, a ceremony wherein all the
Tiff (fictionaltiff)
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Deep made it to the Goodreads best science fiction of the year finals, and I have a review for you!
Yetu and her people are descendants of pregnant African slave women who were thrown from slaving ships. The ocean saves the babies still living in their mothers’ womb when their mothers can’t survive; babies who know how to breathe in water and grow limbs like fish...
This is surely the most unique work of science fiction I’ve read.
It’s a short book that strays from the normal path and dives to
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Haunting. Magical. Deeply emotional.

Yetu remembers. She holds the memories for all of the Wajinru. Remembering is too traumatic for everyone to always carry the history of their people.....the fact they descend from pregnant African slave women tossed over board from slave ships. Born under the waves, they forgot the world of humans. Once a year, they have The Rememberance. Yetu will tell everyone the story of their people. But, carrying all the memories, all the pain, all of their past is
Elizabeth Dragina
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it


I was super impressed by this book. Immediately it stole my breath with details and the impression of a new world. The MC didn't act human, because she wasn't human. I was so thankful for that. Yetu was a creature of the deep. One that descended from the pregnant women thrown overboard of slave ships.

That in itself is so original . . . I am astounded. The beauty of being able to read a Fantasy without stumbling across any cliches.

The author
Kal ★ Reader Voracious

"Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future."

The Deep simply blew me away with its powerful prose and blend of history and fantasy. It's a story of memory and history, the individual versus the group, of identity, of pain and of hope. This is such a beautifully crafted and powerful story that I can't recommend enough.
"Forgetting was not the same as healing."
Descended from pregnant African women thrown overboard from slave
Renee (The B-Roll)
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This book tells the story of Yetu, a 'historian' who keeps all the memories for her people who are descendants of pregnant Africans who were thrown overboard during the Atlantic Slave Trade. Yetu is not content in her position as the historian and seeks ways to get out of her obligation to her kin. Eventually, she succeeds in escaping and finds herself damaged and stuck in a shallow tide pool until she has healed. Unable the hunt for herself she befriends some 'two-legs' who help her heal and ...more
"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 brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping."

OMG this novella sounds incredible!! You can listen to the song that inspired it here: and there's an article with more information about both the
The Artisan Geek
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------

What a lovely story! A story about remembrance of history that alone would be too painful to bear. I could not have read this at a better time!

Holy cow!! I just saw Daveed Diggs explaining the premise of the story and I NEED THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW!!! Here's the link to the video: The Deep.

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Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
The afterword states that the plan was to do a “telephone game” version of a book. So you have quite a few voices each telling one piece of the origins of a merpeople inhabiting an ocean world. The base of the tale is that the wajinru came into being when pregnant captives were flung off slave ships during the middle passage from Africa to the Americas. The mothers of course perished but the babies were born alive already knowing how to breathe in water (because of the womb) and the ocean ...more
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Bookish First Rea...: The Deep by Rivers Solomon and Clipping 5 8 Nov 30, 2019 08:37AM  
Into the Forest: FYI - Shout Out 7 20 Aug 25, 2019 05:49PM  

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Rivers Solomon writes about life in the margins, where they are much at home. They currently live and write in Cambridge, UK, but they originally hail from the US, where they received their MFA from he Michener Center for Writers and their BA from Stanford University.
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“Forgetting was not the same as healing.” 2 likes
“What is belonging?” we ask. She says, “Where loneliness ends.” 0 likes
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