The Deep: 11/22/19
The afterword to The Deep by Rivers Solomon explains the artistic lineage of this novel. It began with the fact that pregnant women were tossed overboard from the slave ships to drown. Their story became the inspiration for a song. That in turn became a performance piece for NPR (and the reason why Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes are included as contributors), and finally was given to Rivers Solomon to write this book.
The conceit throughout is that babies before they are born live in saltwater environments in the womb. What if the sea could reclaim them and give them a life they were denied by those who threw their mothers overboard?
This novel has narratives from four distinct eras: the time of the drowning, the time of the remembering, the time of the escape, and the time of the return. These are my names for the sections. The language and the way commonplace things become revered through the forgetfulness of history reminds me of an underwater version of A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr (1959).
The Deep despite being almost entirely underwater, fits into the road narrative spectrum.
As the bulk of this novel is on the importance of remembering one's origins, the travelers are those original mothers, or maybe the original babies. Regardless, given their death sentence, the original travelers are marginalized (66).
While one could argue that their destination is the wildlands, aka, the sea, I argue that it's uhoria (CC). Yetu as the unhappy historian is forced to hold all the memories of her people. She spends most of her time reliving the past — the drownings, the rescue by the whales and other sea creatures — the sharks. She is often possessed by these memories. She lives in uhoria.
The route to uhoria, though, is a transformative one. I argue that the sea and wood of the ship combine to form a tkaronto, which is another version of the cornfield (FF).
All together, The Deep is the tale of marginalized travelers traveling through uhoria via the cornfield.