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This ambitious novel, published when Gyasi was only 26-years-old, is a historical family saga spanning seven generations across two continents and a fantastic read to really sink one's teeth into! Beginning in 18th-century West Africa, Homegoing follows the descending lines of two half-sisters. Alternating between family lines, each proceeding chapter follows a new character and generation. Effia’s family experiences the devastating legacy of British colonialism and the tumultuous relations between the warring Fante and Asante peoples. Esi’s descendants in America live through the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement. Although the perspective is constantly changing, Gyasi is able to create distinct, fully-fledged, and memorable characters in the short time they are present. -- Baileigh F. at Walker Library
This book is stunning. As soon as I finished the last word I wanted to start it over so I could absorb any detail I might have missed. A must read!
This has been on my to-read list since its publication, and I hate it took me so long while also being grateful it did... because… now what? No hyperbole here: this is one of the best novels I have ever read, like top of the list. Makes me rethink all that came before, actually. Gyasi ingeniously traces the multi-generational stories of two half-sisters and their families, from 18th century Ghana to present day New York, one sister stolen by British slave-traders and the other married to one. Extremely beautiful, extremely sad, extremely powerful. Audiobook highly recommended.
Two sisters, not knowing one another, nor knowing the mother raising them is not their own, have life stories to tell. Both stories of the truth of slavery in Africa and the United States are told simply and without judgement. Beginning in the 1700’s in the Gold Coast and the selling of other tribesman to the highest bidder and ending in present day United States, this is a powerful story of family and the ongoing legacy of slavery.
I read this during the COVID-19 stay at home order. It follows generations of families first in Ghana then in the United States.
A heart-wrenching novel beautifully written in short, searing vignettes. This multi-generational saga wrestles with complex issues such gender, race, family, nationality, and slavery. Profound and unforgettable.
Throughout the entire time I read this book, I would wonder, who are my ancestors? Do I have ancestors who were Mayan or Aztec? Am I the descendant of royalty from 500 years ago? What were the hardships my ancestors had to face? This is a wonderful book and it showed that humans will constantly strive to live and even though their lives may be lost or forgotten, their heirs will live on and carry on their identity.
The novel begins in the late 1700s in Ghana and follows the descendants of two half-sisters; one sister remains in Ghana and the other sister is sold into slavery and sent to the U.S. Each side of the family faces their own obstacles, though it appears to me the descendants in the U.S. faced greater hardships. There was a point I would dread reading the stories that took place in the U.S. because of the realism; there is a strong focus on how the slave masters would force the slaves to forget their heritage, traditions, history, and language.
I learned about the history between the Ashanti and the Fante; I had no idea the British waged four wars against the Ashanti. I guess the history books don't focus on Ghana fighting off the British for half a century.
I highly recommend this book, I think it's a book that everyone should read to understand their own history.
Firstly, it's well-nigh unbelievable that this powerful and beautifully written story is a debut. Gyasi gives us a rich and emotional famiy saga that spans 300 years, 7 generations, and 2 continents. Effia and Esi, two half-sisters unaware of each other's existence, are separated in mid-18th century Ghana - Effia remains in her homeland and Esi is abducted by the British and sold into slavery. The book alternates chapters/stories between Effia's descendants in Ghana and Esi's in the U.S. Gyasi is an evocative writer and I could feel/see/smell/hear the scenes and settings she described. The earlier stories were especially strong; I felt that some of the later, shorter ones became more like vignettes and didn't have the deep characterizations and emotion of what came before. But this a quiibble. I highly recommend this wonderful book and am eager to see what Gyasi does next.
I am currently reading this beautiful, heartbreaking book. I already know it is five stars ⭐️ but I will add a new comment when completed. Highly recommended. ❤️ 😭
I just finished this book. It is informative and sweeping. Full of heart, great characterizations, and great sadness. The last few chapters were less powerful and felt tacked on yet it had a fitting ending. I would suggest this book to everyone.
A very ambitious project for Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel and a worthwhile read. Focusing on two lineages of the same family throughout two and a half centuries, Gyasi alternates chapters to follow the descendants who stayed in Ghana, and those who descended from a kidnap victim sold into American slavery. We witness the abusive horrors that were rampant in the American South, and we see the wars, famine and poverty that challenged those in Ghana. But a satisfying conclusion that comes full circle.
Not finished yet, but I don't recommend the audiobook, keeping EFF-y and ESS-y straight is tough. And it is read so slow! How does it take 12 hours to read a 300 page book? I've already got it going at 1.5 speed and it's taking forever but there is so much information going on.
The author is new, judging from details included in the Acknowledgements, and so I consider this work a notable and promising effort. While the book cover suggests an African theme, the story is both African and African American. It traces a set of related individuals over several generations, from before the rise of the slave trade in western Africa to Jim Crow America. Given the trans-generational framework, the reader is challenged to remember the characters from the previous periods; I had a difficult time making the connections. I did find the American scenarios most compelling and best fleshed out. I consider the effort praiseworthy although I caution the reader about fellow-author testimonies as I find them misleading at times, and this is one of them.
This is a beautifully written book. Yaa Gyasi is an amazing storyteller and I can't wait to discuss this with my bookgroup.
The chapters in this novel are linked stories following two half-sisters' descendants. Everyone’s lives are touched in some way by the slave trade. The family tree at the front of the book helps to keep the descendants and people clear in one’s mind. It’s a complicated book which deals with a serious subject. I will remember some of the events in this book for a long time to come.
Yaa Gyasi's novel, Homegoing is the best piece of fiction that I've read all year. It moved me the same way that Lawrence Hill's novel, The Book Of Negroes did when I read it a few years ago. I can't find the right words to express how impactful and vital these works of fiction are to the African Diaspora. Homegoing deserves a standing ovation!
I would love to see this novel eventually become a TV series on Netflix. Each episode could be based on a character in the book. With the right director, writers, and actors it would be an amazing visual project!
My review looks like 4 1/2 stars, but its supposed to be 5. This book is perfect. I listened to the audiobook version of this. The narrator is one of the best I’ve ever heard— he captures all the different accents, moods, etc. And the stories are brilliant. So much history that never gets talked about in our country! A really beautiful depiction following a lineage across time. I can’t recommend this enough. It should be required reading in all the high schools.
My only complaint is that I didn't get to spend even more time with these characters
So grateful for this book! The art with which Gyasi unfolds the stories of two sisters separated and formed by the slave trade, and of their descendants, is such that the reader is focused entirely on the very human subjects of her art. If I were a high school teacher in the US, I would want this to be required reading for every student. 'Black history' is EVERYONE'S history. Until we learn these lessons, we will never be whole as a nation.