After attempting to deliver us all from evil with the beautifully written Between the World and Me, and his essay collection, We Were Eight Years in Power, award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates—who arguably may be the greatest essayist of our time—is veering into fiction to anoint us all with his debut novel, The Water Dancer, on Sept. 24.

Coates’ first foray into narrative fiction is hailed as a “boldly imagined work of magic and adventure, love and separation, and the power of resistance” that explores the story of America’s oldest struggle—the struggle to tell the truth.

From Random House:

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage—and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child. Hiram, who is gifted with a mysterious power, almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn’t understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away.

So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind—but to do so, he must first master his magical gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss.

But it gets even better. Because yes, the 2015 MacArthur fellow—aka the “genius” award winner—will be hitting the road this fall to spread the gospel of Hiram Walker. Here are the details:

Image: Courtesy of Penguin House

In writing The Water Dancer, Coates spent over a decade visiting numerous plantations and historic sites such as Monticello, in addition to delving into the oral histories of our ancestors and other primary sources in order to ensure the novel’s authenticity. Filled with his trademark insight into the human condition, this novel also serves as a timely reflection of our current climate, in which immigration policies and mass incarceration have fractured families at astonishing rates.

To scoop up tickets for his book tour, visit