The Deep

The Deep


$17.99 $19.99 Save 10% Current price is $17.99, Original price is $19.99. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, November 20


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’s rap group clipping

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 wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534439863
Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press
Publication date: 11/05/2019
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 26,808
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Rivers Solomon is the author of An Unkindness of Ghosts, and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award finalist for Best New Writer. They graduated from Stanford University with a degree in comparative studies in race and ethnicity and hold an MFA in fiction writing from the Michener Center for Writers. Though originally from the United States, they currently live in Cambridge, England, with their family. Find them on Twitter @CyborgYndroid.

Daveed Diggs is an actor, singer, producer, writer, and rapper. He is the vocalist of the experimental hip hop group Clipping. Diggs originated the role of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in the 2015 musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda which he won a Grammy and Tony for. He also cowrote, produced, and stars in the film Blindspotting. Find him on Twitter @DaveedDiggs.

William Hutson is a composer, known for Room 237 (2012), The Mayor (2017), and Ten Minutes Is Two Hours (2013). He is part of the rap group Clipping. Find him on Twitter @Clppng.

Jonathan Snipes is a composer and sound designer for film and theater living in Los Angeles. He occasionally teaches sound design in the theater department at UCLA, and is a member of the rap group Clipping. Find him at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Deep 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
KarlieSch 2 days ago
"Those cursed with more intact long-term recollection learned how to forget, how to throw themselves into the moment." The Deep is a novella with an intriguing concept.  It reminded me a bit of The Giver by Lois Lowry, combined with the Little Mermaid, with some important African history as an overarching theme. Imagine we never stopped breathing underwater as we did in the womb, would the human race have split in two?  Rivers Solomon is skilled in writing in such a way that I felt like I was personally feeling the emotions and struggles of the main character, Yetu, speaking in a first person point of view. I didn't envy her and the deep anxiety she seems to have felt over the past two decades. The story ends up becoming a bit romantic though, which is not my preferred genre hence the lowered rating.
marongm8 3 days ago
This book was received as an ARC from Gallery / Saga Press in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. Right from the cover and description I knew I would be The Deep. I was in for the ride of my life. I could not put this book down. From one chapter to the next my eyes were almost superglued and did not want to be anywhere else. The passion and determination Yetu had for discovering the truth about her ancestors and where she descended from fulfilling her role as The Historian, the most distinguished role anyone can have of her culture. I always love books when you learn a fantastic fact of history and The Depp provided that and more. This book seriously left me breathless and intrigued and those are my two favorite feelings. We will consider adding this title to our Sci Fi/Fantasy collection at the library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Christine Sandquist 3 days ago
The Deep is a compelling novella focused on the importance of history as a part of cultural identity, specifically within the black community. This short tale is focused, coherent, and was written to convey its message clearly and concisely: even if the past is painful and full of trauma, it is key to understanding our modern identity both as individuals and as a larger cultural group. Our past leaves an indelible imprint on our present. The premise of the book is rooted in the brutality of the Atlantic slave trade, viewed through a surprisingly optimistic lens. Where the slave trade caused irreparable harm, new opportunities for community and identity have been born. The wajinru, a mermaid-like race living in the sea, are the sea-born offspring of pregnant black slaves who have been tossed over the side of slave ships to die. The wajinru live with the opportunity to live a life grounded not in their past, but rather in the present: each of the wajinru is possessed of a memory that blanks out the pain of the past. Yetu, however, is the exception to this. She is the wajinru’s Historian, who holds all the generational memories that are too painful for her culture as a whole to hold. They overwhelm her, subsume her, until she simply can’t take it any longer. The past begins to blur with the present, and the imbalance between the two is too much for anyone to handle. However, the wajinru who don’t have Yetu’s connection to the History still need a taste of it to ground them to who they are. Every year, they come together for a telling of the History across three days. It is experienced with all the senses, it is lived. The Historian passes the History out away from herself, such that she might finally have a moment of peace while the rest of her people experience the memories she held in trust. This is both the best part of Yetu’s life and the hardest: it gives her a chance to breathe without the weight of her ancestors, yet the energy needed to guide the other wajinru through the remembering is immense. ‘Yetu knew what they would do. First, seize her. Next, gut her mind. Last, fill her empty shell with ancestors and pretend they hadn’t just murdered Yetu by forcing her to endure these memories endlessly for another year. The thought of it made her shake. This time, she wouldn’t emerge from it. There would be no Yetu left for the next Remembrance. She’d be dead. Yetu wouldn’t let them do it.’ When Yetu refuses to take the memories back from her people during the remembering, she undertakes a journey to find out who she is on her own. She meets the humans who are her ancestors, finds both kindness and heartbreak. Without the memories, she initially believes herself to finally be whole once more. There is space for her, without thousands of voices clamoring to be heard inside of her. ‘“I know who I am now. All I knew before was who they were, who they wanted me to be,” said Yetu. “And it was killing me. It did kill me. I wasn’t Yetu. I was just a shell for their whims.” Oori shook her head and stood up from the water. “But your whole history. Your ancestry. That’s who you are.” “No. I am who I am now. Before, I was no one.”’ As she does this, the wajinru she’s left behind create their own storm. In facing the rememberings without guidance, they find that they are not prepared to understand their origins on their own.
emealer 3 days ago
A gorgeous honoring of a people who should not have been forgotten Plot: Solomon weaves a tale of suspense and grief with masterful skill, successfully keeping the reader engaged. She acknowledges that there are things we will never know about history in the way she speaks of the people never fully remembering their past, save their Historian. Yetu holds the space for us all to feel the pain and the loss. However, the reader is left wanting more- more of Yetu after the end, more of Oori and her story, more about the survival of the wajinru. Structurally: There are points the book is written in a first person plural point of view that made it difficult to follow along. Later on, why those points were in the book are revealed, but as a reader, even something as simple as italics would better signify a change, in POV, time, event, etc. On the flipside, the use of 1st plural constantly reminds the reader of the multitudes held in this story. It's not just Yetu- it's all. Additionally, Solomon uses words and language that honors the women of the story, but I would have loved a pronunciation guide for further clarification. Summary: This haunting novel holds a group of people tenderly and with the utmost respect. It is bittersweet- the hope that some could have survived, the reminder that so many didn't.
JNHK73 6 days ago
The Deep by Rivers Soloman and the members of the rap group Clipping is a deeply unique and thought provoking novella. What originally drew my interest to this book was the use of the term Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is defined as the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a black lens. The Deep accomplishes this—and more—by weaving history throughout the story. Pregnant slaves traveling in ships across the ocean were thrown overboard. Eventually the children adapted to a life under water, growing fins and breathing water. An entirely new society evolved. Because of their tragic and painful past, one Historian holds on to the memories of the past for the whole society. This is Yetu the Historian’s story. I enjoyed this book very much! It was a wonderful glimpse into a “new to me” genre.
Kaleena 10 days ago
"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 ships, the wajinru have no long-term memory, instead choosing to live in the moment without the burden of the past. It is the responsibility of their historian - Yetu - to hold the memories for them so they aren't lost, and once a year they have a ceremony to remember the history for a brief time. But the weight of the painful and traumatic memories consumes Yetu and threatens her life. "Who was she outside of her relationship to her kin?" I adore stories that delve into concepts of identity, so it is no surprise that I was particularly taken with The Deep. Yetu's journey to save herself leads to an exploration of personhood. Who are we without our past? Can we find a balance between remembering the past and not being crippled by it? I found hope in the narrative and Yetu's journey. "There were men, women, both, and neither. Such things were self-determined and Yetu wondered if two-legs had self-determination too." The world is casually LGBTQIAP+, which made me so incredibly happy. Suka uses they/them pronouns and the wajinru are described to be fluid in terms of sexual identity. Labels don't really seem to matter much and I appreciate that a lot. Solomon's prose evokes powerful emotion and is captivating in its prose. Solomon did an amazing job, bringing to life the vast world imagined by Clipping's song of the same name. There is so much I can say about this novella but I think it is one best experienced with as little information as possible; I highly recommend this one, friends! Audio notes: I read along with my physical copy of the book, and Daveed Diggs' narration for the audiobook is incredible. The flowing cadence of Solomon's words come alive, which is unsurprising given the history and iterations of this story. Highly recommend. Also, lol at the burn in the afterword about listening to the book too fast at 2x speed. Touche. Content warnings: attempted suicide, loss, trauma, ARC provided by the publisher via BookishFirst in exchange for my honest review; Audio Listening Copy provided by Simon & Schuster Audio. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and subject to change upon final publication.
mudder17 11 days ago
I had never heard of the song that inspired this book, nor had I heard of the musicians who wrote the song. I just read the blurb about this book and it sounded interesting. This book was not at all what I thought it would be, but it ended up being a very enjoyable experience. However, one of the things I kept think about the whole time I read this book was how much it reminded me of the Giver and Jonas being the RECEIVER at a young age and having to deal not just with the joys, but the awful pain of the history of his people. In this case, Yetu is the HISTORIAN of her people and she is also the keeper of her people's history, all the way back to the beginning. The book shifts time and memory in sections and sometimes that confused me, but overall, I thought it was well written and it also ended well. I'm very glad this book crossed my radar. And I'm now checking out the band, Clipping, even though their style of music is not my usual. Thanks to #NetGalley, #RiversSolomon, the members of #Clipping, and the Publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Bibliomatter 12 days ago
I'm a huge fan of sea themed books, especially in the winter when I'm missing warm summer days. I went into this read thinking it would be just another mermaid book- boy was I wrong! This book was absolutely heart wrenching and very eye opening. Before reading, I had never heard about slaves being thrown into the sea. Knowing this information makes a story about black mermaids so incredibly powerful. This book had be from the very first chapter. Although i rarely read a book in one sitting, I just couldn't put it down. Every time I told myself "just one more page" or "just until the end of the chapter", I found myself unable to stop. When I finally finished, it was 4:00 am. It was totally worth it.
Bibliomatter 12 days ago
I'm a huge fan of sea themed books, especially in the winter when I'm missing warm summer days. I went into this read thinking it would be just another mermaid book- boy was I wrong! This book was absolutely heart wrenching and very eye opening. Before reading, I had never heard about slaves being thrown into the sea. Knowing this information makes a story about black mermaids so incredibly powerful. This book had be from the very first chapter. Although i rarely read a book in one sitting, I just couldn't put it down. Every time I told myself "just one more page" or "just until the end of the chapter", I found myself unable to stop. When I finally finished, it was 4:00am. It was totally worth it.
LisaB95 12 days ago
When I first saw this book cover I got so excited because of the mermaid on the front. I live mermaids. Then while reading, I saw it had a much deeper meaning than the reader could possibly comprehend from just the excerpt or first look. I’m ashamed to say, but I had to research about slaves being thrown into the sea. I don’t know why I never thought about the voyage part to their destination. I think because so much history and movies only show what happened after they reached their destination. This book really touched my soul. My mind has trouble even thinking about what was done to human beings. But it’s not something we should ever forget either. The author took something horrific and added a touch of her own magic and made it into something that will make any age want to read. I thank her for this. This book should be in all libraries and required reading at schools.
MarziesReads 12 days ago
5+ Stars Let me say upfront that there are a lot of people I have a lot of admiration for in this project and one, Navah Wolfe, is NOT listed on the front cover. (I hope you read this Saga Press and Simon and Schuster, because reasons.) I really loved Rivers Solomon's An Unkindness of Ghosts and The Deep was already on my radar because of the aspect dealing with women being tossed from slaver ships because they were pregnant. (Pregnant women being such a bother.*) Anyway, this whole novella is worth your time. Though a fantasy, it has so much to say about embracing difference, about modern Afrofolklore, and about Rivers Solomon as a growing force in Afrofuturism. And let's not forget Clipping, who inspired the novella. What do we ask of our historians? Do we ask them to remember the best, the worst, the everything? Do we ever consider the impact on historians who parse the very worst of history? Do we ever wonder if they sleep at night? If the darkest moments of history steal their peace, their very breath? Yetu is both fragile and strong, a character embodying everything that is human and not. She also embodies the history of the Wajiru people. She's a compelling character. This novella already had me at its premise, and it has moments of immense emotional power. Where are we all from? No, really. Didn't we crawl out of the sea? What about those who went into it? And woe to the entity that is the Historian who has to remember. This novella is on my list of Hugo nominees for Best Novella, and also has my future Locus Award vote. The audiobook, narrated by Daveed Diggs, is terrific. Thanks for letting me "read" it again, *Full disclosure: my paternal family, some of which is from Sub-Saharan Africa, is from the Canary Islands, which were involved in the slave trade. The underlying premise of this book engenders a rather visceral reaction. I received a digital review copy of this novella from Saga Press, and also the audiobook from
Anonymous 12 days ago
Excellent Novella with A Lot to Say I love The Deep. On the surface, I love that it is a story about Black mermaids. But deeper than that, it is a story of Yetu wanting to be free, wanting to be herself despite all the limitations placed on her by her people. Yetu is the Historian. Her job is to hold onto all of the history, memories, of all the wajinru, past and present, and their ancestors so that they would not have to. That is until the Remembrance, the day where she temporarily give them back to everyone. To Yetu, being the Historian is painful. Relieving the memories both good and bad, especially those related to the Transatlantic Slave Trade, is emotionally and physically overwhelming. With each year, she loses more and more of herself to these memories, often days and months at a time, and nearly gets herself killed. So sure that the Remembrance will kill her, Yetu escapes to surface. Free from the distractions of the ocean and the duty of her people. It is there, and what resonated with me, is that she able to affirm who she is as a person. Yetu can be cold and direct, but that is because she’s super sensitive and constantly building up walls to block the outside world so that it doesn’t overwhelm her. She’s also lonely because she’s the only wanjiru burdened by the weight of history. On the surface, Yetu finds a kinship in Oori, the last of her people, and they bond over their loneliness and complicated relationship with the past. All in all, The Deep is a short and fascinating book on how one struggles with not letting a history that is painful but crucial to your identity bury you, and it's about how to be independent while serving your people.
KayceeS 12 days ago
When pregnant African slaves were thrown overboard, they helped create a species of mer-people that live in the deep of the ocean. Yeta is the only person in their species that carries they memories of their frightening history because they are too hard for the others to bare. But once a year they gather together so Yeta can share the knowledge of the past. Afterwards the others are soon released of their grief and Yeta is forced to endure it all alone again and it’s killing her. Determined to leave the past behind for a better future she flees her people. Along the way she must make tough choices and discovers much about herself and her people along the way. I am amazed that such a short novel could pack so much meaning behind a fantasy story!
jjyy 12 days ago
This novella tells a story inspired by clipping.’s song “The Deep”. It is a myth about the Wajinru—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women that had been thrown overboard by slavers. While the women died in the ocean, their children were born as Wajinru. Yetu, the main character, is a Historian, tasked with all of the memories of Wajinru ancestors—including the horrors of how they came to be. The memories drive her mad with their sorrow, grief, and burden—all of which she carries alone save for annual ceremonies when she shares the memories with the others. The memories become more than she can bear and she flees her home and the memories and takes solace at the surface, where she is too far from home to be touched by any memories. There, she learns more about family, history, ancestry, and community than she ever could have through memories alone. This book was SO beautiful! It made beauty out of a violent and devastating past that isn’t far from true history. It was a truly unique story that was beautifully written with fantastic world building. I definitely recommend this book for fans of dark fantasy and/or mythology!
lostinagoodbook 12 days ago
I first heard of this story when I was listening to an episode of This American Life. They featured a song by the group clipping. Voiced by Daveed Diggs (of Hamilton fame) it was a short Hugo Nominated song about a race of mer-people descended of the African enslaved women murdered during the Middle Passage. This short book is an extension of that story. One where Yetu, is responsible for the memories of her people. It is an absorbing, atmospheric book about the terrible weight of memory and shared trauma. Yetu has to learn how to handle the responsibility of being her people receptacle for pain, and the answer lies in accepting the help of her community. This is a wonderful little volume. Afrofuturism is an astounding genre that, in this instance, blends science fiction, fantasy and Black culture. Please listen to the song first if you’re going to read this book, it is kind of a prequel to the story and it is fantastic. I’m including it below. I can’t recommend this story enough. It is remarkable. Song for this book: The Deep by clipping. Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley.
Peaches82 12 days ago
I'm giving this a 3.5 This book (and the song) is based on something in African slave trading that I knew nothing about. It was common practice when slavers were traveling the ocean to throw overboard women who were pregnant. Now what if these women were able to give birth to a new species? Ones that could breath underwater? Yetu is called a Historian. She holds all the memories of her people. This is so all others can forget the past horrors and only falls on one.... The Historian. Once a year, the Historian shares the memories with her people. This gets to Yetu and as her people are remembering, she flees. She goes to the surface and discovers a bit of where her people came from. But will the guilt be too much for Yetu.... For abandoning her people? Check out this book and the song of the same name by the group clipping.
PaulsPicks 12 days ago
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.
Anonymous 12 days ago
I loved An Unkindness of Ghosts so of course I had to read this! The moment I saw that gorgeous cover I was hooked. I'll be getting the hardcover just so I can marvel at it whenever I pass by. I'd had it on my list for a while, but when I got an email from Netgalley saying they had it I couldn't believe my luck! I could get to read this early??? YES PLEASE. I was so stoked when I got approved and read it pretty much immediately. The story is just as haunting and beautifully written as I expected it to be. Just wow. It's nothing like I've ever read before. I would definitely recommend picking this up.
PinkFirework 23 days ago
For starters, what immediately drew me to this novel was the cover. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but it's inevitable. However, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get into this book. It's not that the writing was bad or that the premise was uninteresting. It just wasn't my cup of tea. I actually think the plot of this book is its strongest point. The concept of pregnant African slaves being thrown overboard and their children becoming mermaids is horrific, but compelling in the most morbid sense. It's a warped origin story for the mermaids for sure, but it's not something that I've seen done in a mermaid book before. Add in the plot line of the Historian who holds the memories of her fellow mermaids, and you have yourself a solid novel. Unfortunately, as I said, I just couldn't get into this book. I'd read a page and then immediately have to reread it. To be honest, I felt a little lost throughout much of the book. In the first pages, I feel like I'm just thrown in without much context, and it was pretty jarring. I think maybe that's why this novel couldn't hold my attention. Would I recommend this book to other people? Yes. But I think it's also important to have somewhat of a grasp of the premise beforehand so you know what you're getting into and whether or not you should pick it up in the first place.