Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Book Review: Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

Genre: Historical fiction
Date Published: June 2016
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
# Of Pages/Listening Time: 320 pgs/13 hours

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle's dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast's booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia's descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi's magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

My Rating:
.....For being a very good debut novel!

My Thoughts:
I read this for a book club and I'm now really looking forward to the discussion.

This was a very ambitious and interesting debut novel. A lot of reviews are saying the same thing, so I'm not being all that original here, but you have to admit, 300 years in 300 pages is a pretty incredible. To top it off, you're following the P.O.V. of 14 different people in different locations in the U.S. and Ghana. There's so much packed in to a relatively short book, that you have to admit, this is an impressive piece of literature, made even more so because this is Yaa Gyasi's first novel.

I won't say it's perfect, because it's not. It's a very busy novel that tries to target many different aspects of the slave trade and racism throughout the ages, so it's difficult to become personally invested, but it's still a very good story. I did enjoy following each subsequent generation as they tried to go through their normal daily lives, and I enjoyed reading about Ghana's history in the slave trade and it's war against the British afterwards (although "enjoyed" isn't exactly the right word to use; more like I found it interesting and sad).

Overall, this is a great book for book clubs and for high schoolers. I'm interested in seeing more by Yaa Gyasi, that's for sure.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I hope you have a good discussion at book club. I want to read this book because of the structure. I want to see how the author packs so much stuff into 300 pages.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!