The Book Corner: “The Deep” by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

Rivers Solomon’s “The Deep” is about the struggle between sacrifice and duty.


Illustration by Michelle Rodriguez.

Darlene Antoine, Features Editor

“The Deep” by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes is captivating and thought-provoking, in the story readers are introduced to an underwater world plagued with horrific historical events intertwined with mysticism.

Illustration design by Micah Epstein (2019)

The novel focuses on the story of the water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African women who were thrown overboard from slave ships: the Wanjiru.

The mermaid-like clan has no long-term memory, instead choosing to live in the moment without the burden of the past. The Wanjuri swim along the sea in ignorant bliss without carrying the weight of memories of the suffering of their past ancestors.

The novel follows the story of Yetu, a member of the Wanjuri who has chosen to carry the burden of being a Historian. It is the job of the Historian, to carry the community’s memories along with the echoes of emotional trauma from such events.

Solomon delves into Yetu’s characterization through her exploration of identity and self while also discussing the devastations of slavery through fiction.

The multilayered work is dynamic and heart-wrenching as culture, grief, and desire are encompassed in the novel. Yetu is against her responsibility as the Historian because of the physical and emotional undertakings the duty imposed on her mind and body. She doesn’t wish for her identity to be consumed with the responsibility of carrying the grievances of the cruel deaths of her ancestors.

Solomon’s poetic prose and immersive story-telling are apparent throughout the novel as Yetu embarks on a journey of understanding community ties and remembering the past. The novel delves into concepts of identity and personhood as the world is casually LGBTQIA+, includes representations of anxiety, a nonbinary side character, and more.

“The Deep” is a simple yet complicated novel as it questions the struggle between sacrifice and duty, between tradition and progress, and between vengeance and forgiveness.

Darlene Antoine is the Features Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected]