- Paperback: 250 pages
- Published: 1/31/12
- IBSN: 9781617750311
- e-IBSN: 9781617751103
- IBSN: 9781617750328
- Genre: Fiction
Following her best-selling, award-winning novel Glorious, McFadden produces a fantastical historical novel featuring the spirit of Emmett Till.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2012!
Gathering of Waters is a finalist for a Phillis Wheatley Fiction Book Award!
Gathering of Waters was named a finalist for a 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award!
Gathering of Waters has been selected as a Go On Girl! April 2013 Book Pick.
“McFadden works a kind of miracle—not only do [her characters] retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises . . . Beautiful and evocative, Gathering of Waters brings three generations to life . . . The real power of the narrative lies in the richness and complexity of the characters. While they inhabit these pages they live, and they do so gloriously and messily and magically, so that we are at last sorry to see them go, and we sit with those small moments we had with them and worry over them, enchanted, until they become something like our own memories, dimmed by time, but alive with the ghosts of the past, and burning with spirits.”
—Jesmyn Ward, New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“Read it aloud. Hire a chorus to chant it to you and anyone else interested in hearing about civil rights and uncivil desires, about the dark heat of hate, about the force of forgiveness.”
—Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR
“McFadden combines events of Biblical proportions—from flooding to resurrection—with history to create a cautionary, redemptive tale that spans the early twentieth century to the start of Hurricane Katrina. She compellingly invites readers to consider the distinctions between ‘truth or fantasy’ . . . In McFadden’s boldly spun yarn, consequences extend across time and place. This is an arresting historical portrait of Southern life with reimagined outcomes, suggesting that hope in the enduring power of memory can offer healing where justice does not suffice.”
“The rich text is shaped by the African American storytelling tradition and layered with significant American histories. Recalling the woven spirituality of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, this work will appeal to readers of mystic literature.”
“McFadden makes powerful use of imagery in this fantastical novel of ever-flowing waters and troubled spirits.”
“As strange as this may sound, Bernice L. McFadden has created a magical, fantastic novel centered around the notorious tragedy of Emmett Till’s murder. This is a startling, beautifully written piece of work.”
—Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River
“In her new novel, Gathering of Waters, Bernice McFadden brings her own special vision to the unfortunate story of Emmett Till and his murder in Money, Mississippi. This moving and magical novel, which traces the generations leading up to and away from that horrible night in 1955, drew me in immediately and swept me along through its richly imagined world. I couldn’t stop reading, caught up as I was in that enticing place between truth and fantasy, the here-and-now and the what-was, the living and the dead, the ugliness and the beauty, the hatred and the love. What a rich chorus of voices Bernice McFadden has fashioned from this place called Money.”
—Lee Martin, author of Break the Skin and The Bright Forever
Read Bernice L. McFadden’s contribution to “My Caribbean – 5 Vignettes,” which appeared in the November 10, 2013 issue of the New York Times.
Gathering of Waters is a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi—a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.
Tass Hilson and Emmet Till were young and in love when Emmett was brutally murdered in 1955. Anxious to escape the town, Tass marries Maximillian May and relocates to Detroit.
Forty years later, after the death of her husband, Tass returns to Money and fantasy takes flesh when Emmett Till’s spirit is finally released from the dank, dark waters of the Tallahatchie River. The two lovers are reunited, bringing the story to an enchanting and profound conclusion.
Gathering of Waters mines the truth about Money, Mississippi, as well as the town’s families, and threads their history over decades. The bare-bones realism—both disturbing and riveting—combined with a magical realm in which ghosts have the final say, is reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
BERNICE L. McFADDEN is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a three-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the BCALA. McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Book of Harlan, her latest novel, won the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Fiction.