The Sweetness of Water (Oprah's Book Club) - Nathan Harris

The Sweetness of Water (Oprah's Book Club)

By Nathan Harris

  • Release Date: 2021-06-15
  • Genre: African American
Score: 3.5
From 1,737 Ratings


An Instant New York Times bestseller / An Oprah’s Book Club Pick

In the spirit of The Known World and The Underground Railroad, an award-winning “miraculous debut” (Washington Post) about the unlikely bond between two freedmen who are brothers and the Georgia farmer whose alliance will alter their lives, and his, forever

In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry—freed by the Emancipation Proclamation—seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys.

Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos, including a murder, unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community. In the aftermath of so much turmoil, it is Isabelle who emerges as an unlikely leader, proffering a healing vision for the land and for the newly free citizens of Old Ox.

With candor and sympathy, debut novelist Nathan Harris creates an unforgettable cast of characters, depicting Georgia in the violent crucible of Reconstruction. Equal parts beauty and terror, as gripping as it is moving, The Sweetness of Water is an epic whose grandeur locates humanity and love amid the most harrowing circumstances.

One of President Obama's Favorite Books of 2021

Winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Winner of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

Winner of the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award for Fiction

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize

Shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award

Longlisted for the 2022 Carnegie Medal for Excellence

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Longlisted for the Crook’s Corner Book Prize

A Best Book of the Year: Oprah Daily, NPR, Washington Post, Time, Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Chicago Public Library, BookBrowse, and the Oregonian

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

A July 2021 Indie Next Pick


  • Reflections

    By AnitaMMartina
    Excellent memories and insights into humankind from each of the story’s characters.
  • I’m always floored when I read a book like this…

    By crunch
    How a person can write so beautifully and spin such an amazing story. Didn’t want it to end.
  • It started out great

    By NinaStarbuck
    It was a great story and I thought an actual depiction of the civil war. Once he wrote in the same sex encounters between soldiers it changed. No need. Should have just stayed with the war, the free slaves etc.
  • The Sweetness Of Water

    By Angelica812
    I absolutely Loved Nathan’s precise description to detail, from beginning to end. It was not hard at all to envision each character, personality, emotion or scenery. This book is a screenplay all set for motion. A Great Read Indeed. Thank You 🙏🏽 Nathan Parker for your talents and gift.
  • Wonderful.

    By The Adams Man
  • Sweetness of Water

    By Appropriate Abby
    Elequent writing that gently pulls the reader into the deep layers of a story that builds trust in the ability of the soul to extend beyond earthly constraints. Keep writing Nathan!
  • The Sweetness of Water

    By JaniceLeigh
    An enchanting and beautifully written journey of the human spirit. This book depicts so eloquently human rage, love, and hope. As I have now finished this tale, I want to wrap myself in its beauty once again.
  • Wonderful story

    By Singersongwritter
    A wonderful tale told exceptionally well.
  • Great read!

    By debbieoz
    Wonderful book!

    By Amanda Marcano
    The author did a great job in details to the location and times of the story you felt like you could see or smell the things he described 😊