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The Deep

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  3,890 ratings  ·  1,071 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, 166 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Gallery / Saga Press
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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)
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)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  3,890 ratings  ·  1,071 reviews

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Cindy Pham
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tr-scifi
I'll read any book that Rivers Solomon puts out because their ideas are always unique, creative, and poignant. While An Unkindness of Ghosts follows a more traditional narrative, The Deep reads more as an atmospheric and conceptual piece, which makes it harder for me to rate since I prefer the former. Considering Solomon's intentions with writing this novella, and how much I appreciate the allegory for intergenerational trauma in a mermaid fairytale, I'll round it up to 4 stars. I wish the story ...more
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
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs-read

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)
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved the idea? Not so much the rest. Heartbreaking, for sure. But, somehow I was unable to finish these stories. I sent it back to the library after a few days.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Of the nearly 12.5 million enslaved Africans who were transported to the Americas in the 16th - 19th centuries, it has been estimated that 1.8 million died en route, their bodies, some still alive, tossed overboard into the ocean.

The musical duo Drexciya began a modern myth about mysterious and beautiful ocean creatures who were descended from those Africans who had been thrown overboard during the African holocaust. Forced to endure horrific treatment, starvation, and suffocating quarters, many
Tyler J [They/He] Gray
This story hit me hard from the very beginning. I was so angry at the Wajinru for putting the burden of their entire history all on Yetu's shoulders. All alone, in so much pain, pain they should have been sharing together rather than dumping it all on Yetu and it was killing her, literally. As the story progressed though I understood why they did it. I felt so much for Yetu. At times I related to certain things from being disabled, neuro-divergent and a rather sensitive INFP. I just wanted to ...more
Elise (TheBookishActress)
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
3.5 stars

This was a really interesting/upsetting/disturbing/wonderful premise - all the pregnant women that were held in slavery on ships and tossed overboard to drown, their babies were kept alive by the ocean by turning them into a new race of mermaid-like people. This new species then develops a culture that focuses on letting go of their past. In fact, they have a designated person, the historian, who is responsible for holding their memories/history, and that person is the protagonist of
Dec 24, 2019 marked it as to-read
so short it makes me want to finish it in an hour
Mary Robinette Kowal
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Deep by Rivers Solomon is a short fresh take on mermaids -- and I hesitate to say "mermaids" because the wajinru are very much their own thing. It's filled with beautiful language and an interesting exploration of the relationship between memory and self and community.
I read/listened to The Deep twice in two months, and it was definitely worth returning to, especially since the audiobook was narrated by Daveed Diggs. I appreciated it as an eye-read, but it was even better for listening to. The writing is perfect for being read aloud, which is a style I always enjoy, and it suited the story extremely well. The plot is fairly simple, so the story is primarily driven by its emotional arc, which grapples with generational trauma, memory, communal obligation, and ...more
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
I was sent this book as an advance listening copy via for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

4.5 stars

This was one of the best and most unique novellas I've ever read.

I went in without knowing a single thing except what the book cover might tell you, so I was launched into this world and immediately, ahem, drowned in it. It was not always easy to follow at the very beginning, but I soon became extremely invested in the world, and later about the main character too.

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.
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!
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it

“Forgetting was not the same as healing.”


Yetu possesses all the memories of her people, who live ideal, happy lives in the recesses of the deep. Descended from pregnant, African slave-woman thrown overboard by slave-owners, the Wajinru have chosen to forget their traumatic past. Since Yetu is the only one burdened with terrible knowledge of their shared history, she flees to the surface, discovering a world her people fled a long time ago.

This story is based off of Clipping's Hugo
Deborah Obida
Buddy read with Lulu my January tbr twin.

This book was a disappointment, I expected more after reading the synopsis but the story didn't even focus on that, instead the plot focussed on the self discovery of Yetu the protagonist and her role to her people as the historian.

Truthfully the story isn't bad its just not for me, reading it felt more like a chore than fun. I liked the writing but I think the world building and character development could have been better.
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
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a fantasy novella about mermaids. Or it is a story about horrors of slaveships. Or it is a response to the song with the same title. Or all of that. And more. I think this book will be nominated for 2020 Hugo/Nebula/Locus.

The only other book by Rivers Solomon I’ve read was An Unkindness of Ghosts and it was such a disappointment for me that it was a single book I rated 1-star this year. Why? read in my review. This book worked so much better for me, because the ideas and allusions are
Rachael Marie
“But your whole history...Your ancestry that’s who you are.”

“No, I am who I am now. Before I was no one. When you’re everyone in the past and when you’re FOR everyone in the present... you’re no one.”

I'be been grappling over what to rate this book, and in the end I decided on 3 stars...
Personally, I wish this had been a short story as opposed to a novella. It read like a long piece of spoken word poetry. It was stunning, thought provoking, traumatic, eerie and important. I know this story will
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: netgalley, rtc
RTC but this was everything I expected.
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
Joey T
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
/2.5 stars/

This has been another round of Joey dashing into a book too fast and missing the ‘lgbt’ label.
But yeah. That’s always fuuuun.

I didn’t hate it. I promise, I really didn’t. I’m not gonna do a typical review here, I’m just gonna share some thoughts and then do content.

1) There is no freaking way I’m trying to spell the names cuz i listened to the audio.

2) There were weird undertones of like... evolution/new age/ humanism, which was just weird.

3) I loved the writing. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.
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
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Play Book Tag: The Deep - Rivers Solomon 3 12 Feb 19, 2020 06:13AM  
Play Book Tag: The Deep 4 stars (POLLS) 1 10 Feb 16, 2020 06:24AM  
Bookish First Rea...: The Deep by Rivers Solomon and Clipping 4 11 Nov 30, 2019 08:37AM  
Into the Forest: FYI - Shout Out 7 22 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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“What is belonging?” we ask. She says, “Where loneliness ends.” 7 likes
“Forgetting was not the same as healing.” 4 likes
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