Oprah's new book club pick: Ta-Nehisi Coates' debut novel "The Water Dancer"

Oprah Winfrey announces new Book Club pick

On "CBS This Morning" on Monday, Oprah Winfrey revealed her highly anticipated new book club selection: the debut novel of one of the world's most acclaimed writers.

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One World

"The Water Dancer" (One World) by Ta-Nehisi Coates tells the story of a young boy born into bondage on a plantation and the mysterious power he discovers.

It is Coates' first novel, and it follows on the heels of his acclaimed non-fiction work.

His moving autobiography "Between the World and Me" won the 2015 National Book Award, and his landmark 2014 essay for The Atlantic magazine, "The Case for Reparations," pushed the issue of payments to descendants of slaves into a larger, national discussion.

To read an excerpt from "The Water Dancer" click here.

Winfrey described the experience of reading "The Water Dancer": "I've always been a student of our history, of African-American history. And, you know, I grew up reciting Sojourner Truth's 'Ain't I a Woman' before I even knew what I was really saying.

"And I always recognized I've been carried by the ancestors. And Ta-Nehisi's book 'The Water Dancer' allows us to see that, but also to experience and feel what that carriage has been like."

She called it "one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. Right up there in the Top 5.

"I was enthralled, I was devastated. I felt hope, I felt gratitude, I felt joy - I mean, it's the range of emotions," she said. "That's why I think it has everything that a novel is supposed to [have]. I'm on my second read now, because the first read I was just reading to see if I was going to choose it. And then the second read, I actually am sort of spoonfeeding every word to myself."

She said to Coates, "You are a magnificent writer ... The other day I was reading. I was thinking, 'Gosh, I wish Toni [Morrison] was alive to actually read this book.' She would be so proud."

She pointed to a passage on page 110 of the book in which Coates describes what slavery is:

"Slavery is every day longing. Is being born into a world of forbidden rituals and tantalizing untouchables. The land around you, the clothes you hem, the biscuits you bake. You bury the longing because you know where it must lead."

Coates said he spent 10 years researching and writing "The Water Dancer." "It's deceptive because I actually started writing this before I started writing my second book, 'Between the World and Me,' before I wrote 'The Case for Reparations,'" he said.

Coates called being picked for the book club "a tremendous, tremendous honor. You're going into the company of people like Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead. This was, like, a huge, huge honor for me."

This Book Club pick is Oprah's first in partnership with Apple. "That was my goal, was to partner with Apple and have a wide bandwidth so we can create a community of readers around the world," she said. "I am most excited for people all the world to start reading this and go to @oprahsbookclub and have discussion about it. When you start reading it, you're going to want to talk to somebody."

"The Water Dancer" goes on sale Tuesday.

For more from the conversation with Winfrey and Coates click on the video player below:

Oprah Winfrey talks Book Club pick with Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Water Dancer"

Tune in to "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday for more with Coates on the inspiration for his novel.

Click here for a reader's guide to "The Water Dancer."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.