SAL/on air is a literary podcast featuring the best author talks from over thirty years of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ programming.
Why write about slavery in 2019? And when you write about, how do you defy the popular conceptions about slavery that readers have in their heads? How do you make the subject new? It took Ta-Nehisi Coates – author of the bestselling nonfiction works The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power, and Between The World And Me – ten years of writing and meticulous research to produce his first novel, The Water Dancer, and in that time, he unearthed some incredibly powerful answers to these questions.
Dr. Charles Johnson, author of 24 books and winner of the 1990 National Book Award for his novel, Middle Passage, sat down with Coates in October 2019 to discuss The Water Dancer. Already a NYT bestseller and an Oprah’s Book Club pick, his novel follows the life of Hiram Walker, born into slavery on a Virginia plantation. In the book, Harriet Tubman says of the Underground Railroad – “This is war. Soldiers fight in war for all kinds of reasons, but they die because they cannot bear to live in the world as it is.”