Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.
One of Oprah’s Best Books of the Year and a PEN/Hemingway award winner, Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
A New York Times Notable Book
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This astonishing epic confronts the heinous legacy of slavery and reminds us that the #blacklivesmatter rallying cry is so painfully necessary. Yaa Gyasi sets her debut in Ghana—the country she left as a young child—and her adopted home country of the United States, following two branches of a family with roots in both the Asante and Fante tribes. We can’t remember the last time we were so wrapped up in a novel. What astonished us most was Gyasi’s ability to ground the arc of history in profoundly personal, emotional stories.
Gyasi's amazing debut offers an unforgettable, page-turning look at the histories of Ghana and America, as the author traces a single bloodline across seven generations, beginning with Ghanaian half-sisters Effia, who is married off to a British colonizer in the 1760s, and Esi, who is captured into the British slave-trading system around the same time. These women never meet, never know of each other's existence, yet in alternating narratives we see their respective families swell through the eyes of slaves, wanderers, union leaders, teachers, heroin addicts, and more these often feel like linked short stories, with each descendent receiving his or her own chapter. Esi's descendants find themselves on the other side of the Atlantic, toiling on plantations in the American South before escaping to the North for freedom, while Effia's offspring become intertwined in the Gold Coast slave trade, until her grandson breaks away and disappears to live a simple existence with his true love. In both America and Ghana, prosperity rises and falls from parent to child, love comes and goes, and the characters' trust of white men wavers. These story elements purposely echo like ghosts as history often repeats itself yet Gyasi writes each narrative with remarkable freshness and subtlety. A marvelous novel.
Generations of Heartbreak
When a stone hits glass the crater from the impact flares into a web of disjointed lines. Each strand a different length and depth from the others. This is the image that comes to mind when reading this novel. The single pain of glass of a family lineage, fractured over and over again until you can’t tell where the breaks emanated from.
Yaa Gyasi’s time and perspective jumping story of family, slavery, and Africa is simply amazing. Each chapter a vignette into the cascading damage and heartbreak from the generation before. The gaps between each characters perspective fill up the imagination with untold images and nuance, like the space between the sentences that Hemingway would write.
This book gives a powerful response to those who want to move on from the slavery and Jim Crow of so long ago. Perfectly depicting how the trauma ripples through time. The waves of heartbreak eating away at the shore of bloodlines, country, and dreams. The redeeming and healing power of love is the thread that keeps the trauma from destroying everything.
This a an epic journey full of history beginning in Ghana to America back to Ghana. Well written and moving. A history lesson that should be read by everyone.
This is the best book I’ve read in my life. I’ll leave it at that.