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  • Tinder Press
  • Tinder Press
  • Tinder Press

The Sweetness of Water: Longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize

Nathan Harris

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Historical fiction

Longlisted for the Booker Prize, a powerful American debut set during the Civil War and portraying life after slavery in the vein of WASHINGTON BLACK

**LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE**

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND BARACK OBAMA SUMMER READING 2021 SELECTION

'A fine, lyrical novel, impressive in its complex interweaving of the grand and the intimate, of the personal and political' Observer

In the dying days of the American Civil War, newly freed brothers Landry and Prentiss find themselves cast into the world without a penny to their names. Forced to hide out in the woods near their former Georgia plantation, they're soon discovered by the land's owner, George Walker, a man still reeling from the loss of his son in the war.

When the brothers begin to live and work on George's farm, the tentative bonds of trust and union begin to blossom between the strangers. But this sanctuary survives on a knife's edge, and it isn't long before the inhabitants of the nearby town of Old Ox react with fury at the alliances being formed only a few miles away . . .

An Oprah Book Club Pick

'[A] highly accomplished debut' Sunday Times

Readers have been swept away by The Sweetness of Water:

'Such a powerful, magnificent book; I urge you to read it. The comparisons with Colson Whitehead are justified' *****


'A staggering debut and a story that stays with you' *****


'Thought-provoking and moving . . . a gripping and compelling novel that exposes flaws, mixed emotions and imperfect relationships, and yet it holds on with determination and hope. It fully deserves a 5-star rating' *****


'Outstanding . . . A book that deserves widespread recognition and a wide audience' *****

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Praise for The Sweetness of Water: Longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize

  • An insightful first novel... [a] highly accomplished debut - Sunday Times

  • An impressive debut by a storyteller with bountiful insight and assurance - Kirkus

  • Ambitious debut . . . Harris writes in intelligent, down-to-earth prose and shows a keen understanding of his characters . . . Credible and deeply moving - Publishers Weekly

  • To open Nathan Harris's first novel is to enter a trance. I can't think of any other book out there quite like it. The richness of his language and the exquisite details of the lives he creates produce a kind of waking dream, equally lyrical and threatening

  • What a gifted, assured writer Nathan Harris is. . . better than any debut novel has a right to be

  • This debut novel astonished us as much for its wise, lyrical voice as for its dense realisation of a fictional small town in the American South at a rarely written about moment, the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. We were incredibly impressed by the way it probes themes of trans-historical importance - about race, sexuality, violence and grief - through meticulously-drawn characters and a patient examination of their relationships - The Booker Prize judges

  • Harris' lucid prose and vivid characterization illustrate a community at war with itself, poisoned by pride and mired in racial and sexual bigotry. . . Harris' first novel is an aching chronicle of loss, cruelty, and love in the wake of community devastation - Booklist, starred review

  • The Sweetness of Water is a fine, lyrical novel, impressive at the level of the sentence, and in its complex interweaving of the grand and the intimate, of the personal and political. In presenting two narratives largely overlooked in traditional renderings of the war, Harris breathes new life into a period of history whose stories have grown stale with overtelling - Observer

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Nathan Harris

Nathan Harris is a Michener fellow at the University of Texas. He was awarded the Kidd prize, as judged by Anthony Doerr, and was also a finalist for the Tennessee Williams fiction prize. THE SWEETNESS OF WATER is his debut novel. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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