Homegoing

By Yaa Gyasi,

Book cover of Homegoing

Book description

A BBC Top 100 Novels that Shaped Our World

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…

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Why read it?

11 authors picked Homegoing as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is my second read of Homegoing, and I’m always mesmerized by its imagery and ability to get me vested in characters that I know will have fleeting moments in such a vast narrative.

I consider this story a modern masterpiece in its conquering of a narrative that spans two hundred years and in its attention to detail. Gyasi’s ability to “show” through expressive descriptions and omniscient situational awareness offered such emotion for me. I think this level of placing the reader “there” would be very difficult for most authors with so many characters and alternating POVs.

It also…

I really admire how this book traces two lines of a tumultuous family history through a series of short stories.

Opening in Ghana 250 years ago, the book follows two trajectories: one family branch that is kidnapped into slavery in America, and a second that remains in Africa while collaborating with slave traders.

This is a brave book that is not afraid to pose difficult questions, but in doing so, it opens a clear-eyed perspective on the way that history shapes us.

This is a fiction book with deep roots in history. It touches on race in ways that international relations ignore. The question of gender and culture gets weaved in history as Effia and Esi's (two estranged sisters) stories are told and their journeys unfold generationally. At the end of the book, you will long for a "home" which you may truly call your own!

You may be curious how this fiction book shapes my worldview as a non-fiction and academic writer. To me, fiction is grounded in the multitude of emotions and experiences of reality. The art of storytelling tells…

From Debangana's list on gender and culture with a unique lens.

‘History is Storytelling,’ Yaa Gyasi writes in her epic novel Homegoing.

The compelling story Gyasi tells here is of two sisters born in Ghana during the eighteenth century: one the daughter of an African woman and a British slave trader; and the other a woman forced into the slave trade. By following the two sisters’ descendants down to the present, Gyasi illuminates how the slave trade’s poisonous legacies—enslavement, colonialism, and racism—continually blighted the lives of Africans and African Americans.

A beautifully written and deeply personal novel, Homegoing is essential reading for anyone interested in the slave trade’s history and…

From Nicholas' list on how the Atlantic slave trade operated.

The story of Ghanaian half-sisters expands into a majestic historical epic as Effia marries the English governor of the local slave trade and Esi is abducted and transported to America.

Spanning more than two centuries from the mid-1700s, the novel traces the fates of both halves of the divided family, embroiled on the one hand in the tribal rivalries and colonial exploitations of Ghana and immersed on the other in the horrors of plantation life, the challenges of post-Civil-War migration, and the cultural dynamism of Harlem.

By the time distant cousins from the two lines, Marjorie and Marcus, meet in…

From Thomas' list on siblings in trying circumstances.

Homegoing is a powerful novel that seamlessly weaves together different eras of the African American experience by highlighting the struggles that one family faces across generations from enslavement to segregation to modern challenges that stem from those troubling legacies.

At the same time, the novel similarly examines the generational challenges of a distantly-related family in Ghana and shows how the two family’s fates are cosmically intertwined.

A recent read for me, and an unforgettable one. Homegoing is a family saga stemming from two African half-sisters who never meet. This beautifully written book delves deeply into difficult topics and leaves the reader feeling as if they have undergone the same long and arduous journey. 

From Karen's list on complicated sister relationships.

Being originally from West Africa, this book is a journey back home for me in so many ways. A real homegoing. It is well-written and paced in a way that as I follow each character, I am reliving their story and relating to it on an emotional level I surprised myself with. 

From Sinmisola's list on historical stories on love and slavery.

This short-story collection—the cover calls it a novel, but let’s be honest, it’s really a (brilliant) collection of (beautifully) interconnected stories—maximizes the concept of multi-generationalism. Each story follows the subsequent generations of a family rooted in Ghana. With cool, precise prose, Gyasi follows two branches of the family across continents and through real-world events, populating each generation with characters who both represent and defy the circumstances of their historical milieu. Homegoing weds the historical to the personal to create that rare thing: a work of fiction that’s profound, true, and vibrantly alive.

Talk about expansive, sweeping novels! Homegoing is a novel in the form of a family tree. Beginning in a West African village in the 18th century, the narrative splits into two branches, emerging from two Black women whose lives are distinctly shaped by the slave trade. Each chapter is a story from a subsequent generation, eventually bringing us to the present day. My own novel is often described as “ambitious,” and I am certain that reading Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel made me a more ambitious writer. If you’re looking for a book that spans generations and continents, this is the…

From Rebecca's list on told in connected short stories.

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