Book Review: 'Gathering Of Waters'

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Gathering of Waters is a new novel from Bernice McFadden. Set around the 1955 murder of Emmitt Till, the book is "narrated" by Money, Miss., the scene of the crime and home for the book's characters.


Nearly 60 year ago, a 14 year old African-American boy named Emmett Till left Chicago for Mississippi. He traveled to a town called Money to visit family. Till was murdered there for allegedly flirting with a white woman. The town of Money, Mississippi, is now the setting of a new novel by Bernice McFadden. It's called "Gathering of Waters" and our reviewer Alan Cheuse tells us the town is not only a setting, but a character.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Yes. The town literally has a voice and narrates this novel, inviting us to plunge into a deep and powerful story of love, hate, race, demons and desire with the lynching of Emmett Till at its center.

I have been many things, the voice of Money, Mississippi, tells us. I have been figments of imaginations, shadows and sudden movements seen out of the corner of your eye. For a time, I lived as a beating heart. Once, I was a language that died.

McFadden works her own language. It's hot and alive and effectively sketches characters' hopes and fears in the time before the lynching of young Emmett Till puts Money, Mississippi, on the map.

Till, visiting from Chicago, begins a serious flirtation with Tass, a local black girl, a flirtation that continues on after his death. Long after Tass grows up, moves to Detroit and raises a family, she and Emmett meet again on the muddy earth of Money, Mississippi. Sounds unbelievable? Not when you read it.

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.


SIEGEL: The novel is "Gathering of Waters" by Bernice McFadden. Our reviewer is Alan Cheuse.

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