Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.
Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrait. Homegoing is a searing and profound debut from a masterly new writer.
This book had a massive publicity machine and I’ll admit to not reading the blurb or any excerpts before developing an intense desire to read it. Yes, I totally fell for the marketing strategy; which is why I jumped at the opportunity to read a review copy of the UK edition.
The story chronicles the experiences of several generations of a family torn apart by tribal wars and slavery. The concept of creating different narratives over such an incredible length of time must have been daunting and there are several ways it could have gone south… But it didn’t.
The research that must have gone into writing this book…
The Author takes her time to take the reader through history. She has a gift for transporting you into the time and place so profoundly that you feel the passage of time once you start a new chapter. There are no dates to remind one of this, I can’t remember any reference to any particular year, which makes this all the more interesting.
What I loved about it
- History: Seriously, If you have any interest in Ghanaian/African history. This book will captivate you; the story takes you through time, across continents. I particularly loved learning about Ghanaian Culture before Colonization, which isn’t something I had given any thought to before this book. The details about the Slave trade also held my interest, I have always thought about this in the abstract and as something so far in the past, I can’t truly relate to. This book brings that time to life and I have to say I don’t think I would have survived for long in that era.
- I also loved how the Author chronicles the journey of African-Americans from slaves to grudgingly accepted members of society. The truth is I cannot truly understand what it means to have the entire system working against you.I kept looking forward to the parts of the family in America hoping that maybe they would have caught a break by now, but it never ends. Not really. Yaa Gyasi really took her time, not so much to address the issue but to lay it bare. So you can see the effects and feel a little of the injustices perpetuated against an entire race.
- Everything Else: There aren’t many books that I don’t have problems with. Not just for the sake of being contrary but because my attention span is completely unreliable. I’m either all in or bored to tears but there is so much to love about the theme of this book: Love and the strength of familial bonds. I found myself wishing it didn’t have to end.
This book was a charming and enjoyable read. There are serious issues in here that are a little depressing, but the story isn’t. It serves as a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit and the hope we all have that regardless of time or circumstances, we will always find our way home again.
I completely recommend this. With two thumbs up.
“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing?, Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”
“You want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.”
“The family is like the forest: if you are outside it is dense; if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.”
“Evil begets evil. It grows. It transmutes, so that sometimes you cannot see that the evil in the world began as the evil in your own home.”
P.S. I was provided with a free copy of this book by Penguin UK and Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Penguin Books UK
Year of Publication: 2017
Quiet and obsessed with books.