Saga Press announced today that it would publish The Deep, an Afrofuturist novel based on the song of the same name by rap group Clipping (often stylized as clipping.) which includes Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. Nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form, “The Deep” envisions an underwater culture of the descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slavers. Rivers Solomon, author of An Unkindness of Ghosts and a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, will write the novel, to be published in June 2019.
Simon & Schuster’s official announcement describes the plot of The Deep:
The Deep is the story of Yetu, who holds the memories for her people—the water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slavers. Her people live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save her. But the memories—painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous—are destroying her, so she flees to the surface, to escape the memories and the expectations and the responsibilities, and discovers a world her people left behind long ago. She will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
“The Deep” was originally released on This American Life episode #623 “We Are In the Future,” which delved into Afrofuturism:
The idea to adapt “The Deep” to book form came about at Worldcon 2017, when Saga Press editor Navah Wolfe (then nominated for Best Editor – Long Form) met Clipping (nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form for their album Splendor & Misery) at the convention in Helsinki, Finland. “The first time I listened to ‘The Deep,’ I knew there were more stories in it,” Wolfe said in the press release. “It’s such a powerful, evocative song, full of layers, and I wanted to help bring those stories to the surface. Working to bring two enormous talents like Clipping and Rivers into conversation with each other to make this book a reality has been an extraordinary treat.”
“Clipping’s ‘The Deep’ is a fantastic feat of storytelling, word play, and literary prowess,” Solomon said. “It’s been such an honor to be a part of transposing this powerful work into written medium—tackling familiar themes of mine (diaspora, collective memory, trauma), while using the vision of other artists as a springboard. How does one begin to capture the poetry of the lyrics, the surreality of the sound effects, and the musicality of the changing tempos? As a writer, you dream of taking on a challenge like this.”
From Diggs, for Clipping: “I’m thrilled that Rivers Solomon heard enough in ‘The Deep’ to use it as a skeleton for such a beautiful and thrilling book. I’ve always thought that ‘good art’ begets ‘good art,’ so reading what Rivers created felt like receiving the greatest of compliments. I can’t wait for people to read it!”
Read more about “The Deep” and its Hugo nomination within the larger context of the awards.
In turn, Clipping will release a vinyl edition of “The Deep,” as well as new music inspired by the book, to coincide with The Deep’s publication in June 2019.