Homegoing

Homegoing 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 ItselfEpic In Its Canvas And Intimate In Its Portraits, Homegoing Is A Searing And Profound Debut From A Masterly New Writer

Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop where she held a Dean s Graduate Research Fellowship Her short stories have appeared in African American Review and Callaloo Her debut novel, is Homegoing Knopf, June 2016 from

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  • Kindle Edition
  • 315 pages
  • Homegoing
  • Yaa Gyasi
  • English
  • 20 June 2017

10 thoughts on “Homegoing

  1. says:

    What I know now, my son 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 4 1 2 stars Homegoing is an incredible and horrific look at history, colonialism and slavery in Ghana and America, across 250 years How the author managed to create such rich characters, cover so much history, and tell such a complex, but compelling story in only 300 pages, I do not know.I recently said in my review of East of Eden that I love family sagas Those epic tales spanning generations and pulling you into the lives of so many interesting characters yeah, they are some of my favourite kind of stories Spending so long with the same family, watching them grow through the years and seeing their children face their own problems it just feels so personal I feel like I ve grown with them.This book, however, is possibly the most ambitious family saga I have ever read Most books like this feature three generations Homegoing follows seven generations, fourteen perspectives in total It all begins with two half sisters Effia and Esi who will never know each other One s experiences lead her and her family to slavery in America, the other s family find themselves mostly in Ghana Each chapter is from the perspective of a new character first Effia and Essi, and then six of their descendants, as the story tracks the cultural changes in both Ghana and America through colonialism, racism, and attitudes to slavery Through the characters, we experience life during the tribal wars of the 1700s, the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, the ways in which prominent leaders in Ghana aided British and American slavers, the fear created by the Fugitive Slave Act, and much .I can t quite reconcile the knowledge that I ve read only 300 pages with the amount of history and rich characterization I ve just experienced Considering that I usually grumble when a book has than two perspectives, it s quite something that none of these fourteen perspectives felt lacking Gyasi is just a great storyteller she takes important subjects like slavery and colonialism, and peppers them with perfect little conversations and insights into human nature All people on the black continent must give up their heathenism and turn to God Be thankful that the British are here to show you how to live a good and moral life Also, the British really sucked back then Thank god we got over that, pulled our heads out of our arses, and started embracing other cultures Oh, wait.As is to be expected, there s a lot to be disgusted about in this book True to history, it is full of blood, whippings, racist language, British superiority and other scenes that will turn your stomach However, Gyasi handles it with sensitivity for her subject, ensuring that the violence is a honest portrayal of history, not gratuitous.A gritty, detailed story about the long standing effects of the colonization of Africa and the slave trade A real accomplishment to cover so much history in so few pages without feeling rushed.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube Store

  2. says:

    Homegoing is a very confident debut novel Exceptionally engaging and the strongest case for reparations and black rage I ve read in a long time Seriously, white men are the devil The most interesting part of this novel, the structure, also becomes the most frustrating part of the novel The story starts with two sisters who are never allowed to know each other, and what becomes of the generations they beget, starting in 18th century Ghana The novel beautifully explores the slave trade and imagines life in Ghana at that time, and as we move forward through time, from one generation to the next, we see what slavery becomes in the US, and how it changes Ghana The early chapters are rich and immersive and I could not put the book down I am impressed by the magnitude of the novel s ambition and how much research went into feeling like the author had, herself, seen African in the 18th century or the American South in the 19th century or Harlem in the 20th century The closer we get to present day, the the chapters feel like they are designed, not so much as fictional narratives, but rather as vignettes meant to reveal specific historical moments and sociopolitical ideas the civil war, the end of slavery, the great migration, modern civil rights The chapters become shorter We have less time to feel connected to the characters and the narrative starts to feel less satisfying And then there is the ending which is necessary for what the writer is trying to do but which also feels terribly convenient and insubstantial Regardless, Homegoing is one hell of a book and because the writing is so damn good, I actually appreciated the novel s flaws as a reminder that even a writer this incredibly talented is human I recommend Homegoing without reservation Definitely a must read for 2016.

  3. says:

    I give 5 shining stars to Yaa Gyasi s Homegoing, the best debut novel I have read this year In this semi autobiographical tale, Gyasi follows the family histories of two half sisters, Effia the beauty and Esi to reveal how their families end up Each chapter is a vignette focusing on a family member in subsequent generations, alternating between Effia and Esi s families until we reach present day Here are their until now largely untold stories Effia the beauty had been raised by her step mother Baaba who did not love her as her own Saved from a fire that plays a prominent role in her family s history for generations to come, Effia becomes the village s beauty long before she reaches marriageable age Baaba, who always resented Effia s presence, sells her to the British in order to ensure the Asante s place in the slave trade, and Effia marries an English governor rather than a tribal chief The only memory she takes with her is a black stone polished by fire One village over from Effia s, Esi Asare becomes a spoil of a tribal war In a subsequent war, she is enslaved and taken to the same Cape Coastal Castle where Effia lives as the governor s wife Before becoming captive, Esi receives a black stone from her mother Maame and finds out that she is not her mother s first born, rather that she had another daughter who she lost in a fire Through the stone and oral histories, Esi learns that separated sisters are to be forever cursed in their family history In spite of hearing this tale, Esi is determined to hang onto her stone, even when she is sold into slavery and bound in horrid conditions for America Gyasi interconnects the stories of Effia and Esi s descendants by alternating chapters Each chapter tells the tale of the next member of each sister s family down to present time Effia s family remains in Ghana whereas Esi s descendants move back and forth between the southern and northern United States Playing a role in each chapter is the black stone and oral tradition as well as black pride and remembering where one came from through both the good times and the sacrifices made In addition to the family, we read how their choices reflect the turmoil happening in both Ghana and the United States up through present times, which made the book even powerful than it would have been if Gyasi only chose to tell a family narrative Because Gyasi only uses twenty pages to tell of each generation, the pages are powerful and packed full of detail and flowing language Thus, each chapter read quickly as I desired to find out how the families ended up I enjoyed the vignette format as though it were Gyasi telling us in person the African style oral history of where her ancestor Effia started and where she ended up It would have been interesting to know a few details in the gaps between generations, but Gyasi fills these in easily enough in the next story An extremely powerful read being billed as this generation s Roots, I immensely enjoyed Homegoing and look forward to Gyasi s future novels.

  4. says:

    Read for Book Riot s 2017 Read Harder reading challenge 24 Read a book wherein all point of view characters are people of colorThe premise for this book is amazing Two sisters are separated at birth, and each alternating chapter follows a descendant of each sister Great, right My biggest issue was that this felt like a collection of short stories than a novel There s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but it just wasn t my cup of tea When I read a novel, I want to feel connected to the characters and their stories, but with this book I feel like I never got to know the characters, like I only saw their surfaces As an entire book, this was a fascinating read and I m super glad I read it It really shows how much can change over the course of a few generations, and looking at it like that makes me enjoy it a bit However, in the end, I rate books based on how much I enjoyed the actual reading experience, so this gets 3 stars from me.

  5. says:

    congratulations semifinalist in goodreads best historical fiction category 2016 We believe the one who has the power He is the one who gets to write the story So, when you study history, you must always 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 begin to get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture this is a shockingly good debut novel it s accurately classified as a novel in stories, although there is a strong connective thread binding them together it opens in the eighteenth century with the story of effia, followed by the story of esi these women are half sisters who have never met, born to the same mother into different villages and different tribes in ghana effia marries an english slave trader while esi is herself sold into slavery the rest of the book travels the bloodlines of these two women through time in alternating chapters, we are presented with the perspectives of each subsequent generation born to the sisters, climbing the family tree for about 300 years and six generations, which means that after the initial story of each sister, there are twelve different POV chapters, each telling a new character s standalone story.in about 300 pages.phew.and i knew this about the structure from reading other reviews of the book, but by the time i finally read this myself thanks for the push, alex , i d forgotten this fact, and i kind of wish i hadn t it s not that she doesn t pull off the feat very well, because she absolutely does, but i kept wanting to return to certain characters, and, of course, it never does it s not a bad thing, to be so intrigued by a particular character that you re left wanting , but with each chapter, you re uprooted out of a storyline, in some places at a very tense moment, and you need to take a moment to process what you ve just read before bracing yourself for what might come next because chances are, there will be horrors ahead considering the struggles and brutality these characters often faced, my complaints are pretty damn trivial if the worst thing that happens to you all day is boo hooing over readerly dislocation, you re having a good day and reading this book will make your day better not in the sense that it will leave you with fuzzy feelings of how wonderful the world is and has always been, because this book is filled with death, horrors, violence, and it can get very brutal in its descriptions this is 250 years of african history after all, and between the slave trade, the journey to america, the conditions of slaves in the new world, etc etc on to contemporary and insidious forms of racism and violence, it s not an easy read, emotionally but it will make your day better to know that there s a powerful new voice out there, telling important stories with truly captivating, transportative, effortless grace it s exciting to read something that engages the mind and the emotions and makes you want , especially in a debut and it s a really gripping overview of a history made up of those suppressed voices, told in vignettes that cover a lot providing that clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.the only thing preventing this from earning a full five star celebration is that some of the characters, especially in the contemporary times, were not as interesting to me as previous generations, and some were altogether forgettable, even though her writing remained strong and fluid throughout, so it s never a drag to read and i definitely loved marjorie Marjorie wondered if she was in love How could she know How did anyone know In middle school she had been into Victorian literature, the sweeping romance of it Every character in those books was hopelessly in love All the men were wooing, all the women being wooed It was easier to see what love looked like then, the embarrassingly grand, unabashed emotion of it Now, did it look like sitting in a Camry sipping whiskey the quickchange POV s sometimes forced me to refer to the family tree in the front, to remind me which a to b to c this character s line was on it s easy enough to remember if you re on effia or esi s line, and to remember the generation just before each story, but when you get to the point where you have to remember 4, 5 generations back, when it s alternating between the two lines, it can get a bit blurry not that that s necessary to understand or appreciate the book it was just for my own needs, because i like to trace storylines and look for patterns, echoes, repetition but warning looking at the family tree is kind of spoilery because you know who s going to hook up with whom, and you know that they won t die before they breed after that, though no promises it s always invigorating to come across a particularly strong debut novel to know that this author is likely to get even better over the course of their career i cannot wait to see what she writes next, because this was such an intense and beautifully written book i d earmarked a ton of quotes that i wanted to share and discuss, but they don t seem quite right now, excised from their surrounding narrative so you ll have to discover them yourself, in the course of reading this book, and i ll just leave you with the passage that hints at the book s title One day, I came to these waters and I could feel the spirits of our ancestors calling to me Some were free, and they spoke to me from the sand, but some others were trapped deep, deep, deep in the water so that I had to wade out to hear their voices I waded out so far the water almost took me down to meet those spirits that were trapped so deep in the sea that they would never be free When they were living they had not known where they came from, and so dead, they did not know how to get to dry land I put you in here so that if your spirit ever wandered, you would know where home was Marjorie nodded as her grandmother took her hand and walked her farther and farther out into the water It was their summer ritual, her grandmother reminding her how to come home.and i also want to take a second to plug one of my favorite books of all time, one that also covers african complicity involvement in the slave trade and its horrors The Book of Night Women it s jamaica, not ghana, and it s even brutal than this one, but it also has one of the best characters ever written and it left me with the same feeling of discovering a new writer as this one did and marlon james went on to win the man booker, so i m wishing the same success to gyasi.come to my blog

  6. says:

    Stunned, just absolutely stunned that this is a d but novel Spanning centuries and continents, the novel follows two families, one from the slave trading Fante nation and another from the Asante warrior nation, in the British colony that is now Ghana Stepsisters, who are unaware of each others existence, one will marry a white man, a British official who lives in the upper part of the Cape Coast Castle The other, in the lower dungeons of the same castle and sold as a slave, transported to the American South Any book about slavery is going to be hard to read and this book is no exception In alternating chapters, we go from Africa, to the south, and follow the descendants of the two women We see what happens in Africa, the effects of the British Colonization and internal warfare The South, slavery and then quasi freedom but under Jim Crow laws South Carolina and its eugenic provram.Rather than reading as a novel it is almost like portraits, snapshots of the lingering effects of slavery Characters change often, each chapter narrated by another though some overlap, this took some getting used to but each character was important, each character I took to heart The writing is fantastic, the imagery of fire and water following the different family lines.Needless to say there is not alot of joy within, but there are occasional glimpses The novel does end on a surge of hope and another fantastic visual I cannot wait to see what this young, already accomplished author will tackle next ARC from Netgalley.

  7. says:

    This multigenerational epic has already gotten lots of attention, and it deserves every bit of it Gyasi s debut novel begins with two half sisters in 18th century Ghana, strangers to each other Effia marries a white man, and Esi is enslaved and taken to America The novel follows the children of these two women through the generations, alternating between Africa and America As we meet each new descendent, we see how the legacy of slavery plays out across history, both for the enslaved and for those complicit in the slave trade Each chapter reads like a single short story, but the forward momentum across time gives the book a novelistic feeling I adored this book, finding it illuminating, heart breaking, and beautiful to read I can t recommend it highly enough Teresa Prestonfrom The Best Books We Read In March 2017 ____________________Pretty much everyone at Book Riot has been raving about this book, but I m going to rave about it some I hope you guys aren t tired of hearing about this book, because it really is that good It s a multigenerational family saga about two sisters born in 1700 s Ghana and separated at birth, and each chapter alternates between the different family lines, looking at a different generation each time You don t get to spend much time with each individual character, but the breadth and scope of the story is mind blowing And with each new chapter, we see how the injustices of the past, whether they re rooted in American slavery or African colonialism, build on each other to affect the future The story is brutal, but the language is absolutely gorgeous, and this is a MUST READ for anyone looking for a new perspective on racial history I m blown away that this was a debut novel Katie McLainfrom The Best Books We Read In September 2016 is a multi generational saga that spans two continents and over two hundred years The story follows two Ghanaian sisters and their descendents One sister marries an Englishman and goes to live in Cape Coast Castle the other is sold into slavery and passes through the castle on her brutal journey to the plantations of the American South The book reads like a series of interconnected short stories, each chapter focusing on one character in the family tree I was completely blown away by beauty and poignancy of Gyasi s writing and the skill with which she executed a story of such grand scale I was completely gripped from the first page Kate Scottfrom The Best Books We Read In August 2016 don t know what higher compliment to give this book that to say that it was responsible for a very burnt curry one night I was just going to read a couple of pages while the sauce simmered There is no couple of pages with this tale of two half sisters in Ghana, Effia and Esi, and their descendants Rich, evocative and emotional, I savoured every page Rachel Weberfrom The Best Books We Read In February multi generational novel has been getting all the positive buzz by other Book Rioters so I knew I had to pick it up myself and give it a try The story begins with two half sisters and follows the family tree down those branches across around 100 pages through Ghana and eventually the United States Each chapter follows a different member in the family line, alternating between different sides of the family Despite the fact that you are only seeing snippets of each person s life, Yaa Gyasi is still able to create a connection between the reader and these characters Each chapter is filled with so much emotion and depth and tackles so many different topics Even though so much of this book was so emotional, I didn t want to put it down Rincey Abrahamfrom The Best Books We Read In May 2016 now, you have heard several Rioters rave about this book, and you are sure to hear about it from several Possibly the best book of the year, this amazing novel stomped my heart flat with its wrenching story of sisters and slavery Spanning three hundred years, Homegoing follows the stories of two half sisters in Ghana one made a wife, one made a slave and the lives of their offspring in several countries, and throughout wars and jealousies, births and deaths Gyasi s writing is astoundingly remarkable The fact that this is her first novel is almost incomprehensible, because it s perfect Liberty Hardyfrom The Best Books We Read In June 2016

  8. says:

    And so they waited Ness and Sam and Kojo, working longer and harder in the fields than any of the other slaves so that even the Devil began to smile at the mention of their names They waited out the fall and then winter, listening for the sound that would tell them it was time, praying that they wouldn t be sold and separated before their chance came Homegoing was one of the Fiction books nominated for best books of the year by members on Goodreads It made the first round cut I m on a mission to read other desired TBR nominated books before the year is up Since there are many wonderful, HOMEGOING reviews before me, here on Goodreads.here s a little side dish to the already great community book pot Fantastic debut novel.powerful storytelling.Having the physical book made it easy to refer to the family tree of generations If I started to forget which person intimately belong to another, having the physical book made it easy to flip to the genealogy chart.The two main family sides to keep track of was Effie or Esi given my name is ElyseI had no problem keeping track of the connections that follow the E girls I had already heard from other readers that they wished the stories were longer of each character. information about them KNOWING this ahead of time was useful information for MY TURN in reading this book OTHER READERS REVIEWS HELPED GIVE ME A CONTEXT WITH THIS NOVEL.so that, I was able to avoid pitfalls and get most value The way I saw the short chapters were a little like short stories WITH A PURPOSE contributing to the GREATER CONTEXT.,.The author drives home the evilness that slavery is The fact that in 300 pages, Yaa Gyasi covers 300 years worth of the damaging effects that the institution of slavery had on people through personal family stories..getting a glimpse at each of them..is a remarkable achievement.The characters feel very real If I was told ahead of time that this was a true story about real people I would have believed it The author allows us to see all sides of slavery none of it is a pretty picture but she steps back from judgement and allows us to look at the inner demons of the self absorbed greedy misogynistic African and American man Gyasi reminds me a little of another great author another great storyteller who doesn t take sides on issues even horrific evil issues rather stays on purpose with his storytelling T.C.Boyle A book which comes to mind is Tortilla Curtain I don t mean to sound intellectual about this book because it s not where my heart lives I was simply trying to support another reader in ways other readers have helped me In a book about slavery through generations a with so much to cover, I feel communities ought to read this book together, and talk about it I WAS EMOTIONALLY touched.THE STORYTELLING IS VERY MOVING..at the same time it s an important book The history of how groups of slavery migrated from Africa to America is informative and fills in holes with our own understandings This novel is both educational and intimately personal.Our hearts get filled.and our minds are thankful

  9. says:

    My heart hurts and there is not enough Ben and Jerry s in this world to soothe it After reading Homegoing I am literally spent This is not a bad thing This is just a very sad novel Homegoing covers the mid 18th Century to present times It follows two different tribes in Ghana Fante and Asante , two different families, and specifically two half sisters, Effia and Esi and their offspring The sisters know nothing of each other Both sisters are living in Ghana One sister stays in Ghana and marries a British soldier working in the slave trade although the soldier is married to another woman in England and has a family there as well while the other sister is sold into slavery and is shipped to America Why did I give it 4 Stars as opposed to 5 The book was too much for me It spanned too much time and there were too many characters in it I felt part one was a solid 5 extremely powerful stars Part two was 3.5 stars because it felt a bit forced The narration by Dominic Hoffman was fantastic and 5 Star This is great on audio I did find the black stone necklace that was passed down from generation to generation to be a very cool symbol that the author incorporated into the story I read this book because of my friend Diane s review It is much better than mine and she liked the book than I did Check it out here writing is exquisite Yaa Gyasi is an extremely talented writer This is such a powerful debut and I can t wait to read her next book Highly recommended to everyone It s not an easy read but it is a very important one Now I m going to go and curl up with my furfamily and decompress These past few days have been intense.

  10. says:

    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend Homegoing is a multi generational saga that follows the descendants of two half sisters, Effia and Esi, across three centuries, beginning in eighteenth century Ghana and arriving at the present day Each chapter of Homegoing introduces a new character, which means readers are subjected to endless amounts of backstory seamlessly integrated albeit wearisome In many cases, when a character s story reaches its apex, the chapter ends, giving no immediate sense of resolution Two chapters later, some explanation for how a character s story ends is tacked onto the narrative of whatever new ancestral character is being introduced Reading this book is akin to reading a collection of short stories, most of which lack a complete story arc The problem with introducing so many characters is that readers are afforded such limited time with each of them that it s difficult almost impossible to form any sort of emotional attachment to any of them It gives the sense that readers are distant bystanders, too far removed from the story to be personally invested The most notable characters are half sisters Effia and Esi The entire book hinges on their having never met, and it seems like a missed opportunity not to have dedicated the novel to their story alone And in my village we have a saying about separated sisters They are like a woman and her reflection, doomed to stay on opposite sides of the pond The writing is consistent and precise throughout, though nothing makes it special or striking No memorable phrases or lush passages leap off the page Homegoing s strength has to do with the author s depiction of Africa and America across centuries Life and customs in Ghana are portrayed in rigorous detail, the horrors of the slave trade are acutely rendered, and the rising up of a nation built on prejudice and discrimination is depicted with exactitude 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 Homegoing is a commendable debut but doesn t live up to the hype.

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