A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • 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.
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.
This book has been compared to Roots. I think it’s better. Traces 2 families from slave to present times. Stories weave through the families, and cover an amazing amount of history. The author researched the historical facts, and I really enjoyed it. With all the racial unrest in the world, I think this was a very timely book. I highly recommend it.
Many thanks to Yaa Gyasi for crafting such an amazing piece of work.
I wanted to like this novel based on great reviews. It kept skipping generations and going back that I got lost and forgot who was who. This was boring. I stopped reading before half of the book. Just not for me.