Spotlight On “SHALLOW WATERS” By Anita Kopacz @AtriaBooks@cthagod
In her stirring and lyrical debut novel, Anita Kopacz draws on the Yoruban legend of Yemaya, a Black mermaid deity who watched over enslaved African people as they were forcibly shipped across the Atlantic.
Separated from her parents and unaware of her divine destiny, sixteen-year-old Yemaya sets off on an epic journey in search of Obatala, a young man with whom she shares an inexplicably magnetic connection. When Obatala sacrifices his freedom for hers, the young mermaid travels across the ocean—and into the unknown—to save him.
SHALLOW WATERS: A Novel (Atria/Black Privilege Publishing; August 3, 2021; Hardcover; $26.00; ISBN 9781982179663) imagines Yemaya’s origins as she uncovers her powers and her purpose. In the course of her journey, Yemaya confronts great evil as she transcends time and place in search of Obatala. She must realize the fighter within as she travels from the Middle Passage to the Underground Railroad, aided along the way by indigenous Americans, fellow travelers, and iconic historical figures—among them Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
SHALLOW WATERS is a unique and exciting story that will appeal to readers for several reasons:
· There is a growing appetite for Black voices in the fantasy, magical realism, and sci-fi genres
· Mermaids are timelessly popular, but are rarely depicted as people of color
· The story is rooted in history as well as Afro-Caribbean legend
· The legend of Yemaya is resurfacing as a symbol of Black identity, and was cited in Beyonce’s Black Parade
The novel shares thematic elements with other wildly popular novels like Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone and Ta-Nehesi Coates’ The Water Dancer.
This tale of strength, love, perseverance, and Black identity will serve as a nourishing work of ritual storytelling. SHALLOW WATERS is the first work of fiction from Charlamagne Tha God’s imprint, Black Privilege Publishing.