Longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2021. Conjuring a world fraught with tragedy and violence yet threaded through with hope, Nathan Harris’ debut novel is enthralling and deeply moving.

In the dying days of the American Civil War, newly freed brothers Landry and Prentiss are cast penniless into the world. Hiding out in woods, they’re discovered by the land’s owner, George Walker, a man still reeling from the loss of his son in the war. The brothers begin to work on his farm, and tentative bonds of trust begin to blossom. But this sanctuary survives on a knife’s edge. It isn’t long before the inhabitants of the nearby town of Old Ox react with fury at the alliances being formed.

The 2021 Booker Prize
Published by
Tinder Press
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Nathan  Harris

Nathan Harris

About the Author

Nathan Harris was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2021. He is a Michener fellow at the University of Texas. The Sweetness of Water is his debut novel.
More about Nathan Harris

You worry about whether you’re getting the story down properly. You anguish over the quality of the prose

Listen to an extract from The Sweetness of Water

William DeMeritt brings the audiobook of The Sweetness of Water to life.

Cover for The Sweetness of Water on an orange-coloured background.

Nathan Harris makes those extraordinary, still contested times comprehensible through an immersive, incredibly humane storytelling about the lives of ordinary people

Nathan Harris and Oprah in conversation

The Sweetness of Water was chosen as the 91st pick for Oprah’s Book Club.

Speaking about choosing the novel, Oprah said: ‘As I read this masterful novel I kept thinking – this young 29-year-old is a first-time author, so how did he do this? As the best writers can do, Nathan takes us back in time, and helps us to feel we are right there with Prentiss and Landry as they get their first taste of freedom. I rooted for them, and feared for them too.’

As part of the book’s selection, Oprah met Nathan Harris and his father for lunch. Watch their conversation below.

Still from video of Oprah, Nathan Harris and Harris' father sitting at a table laid with flowers.