Homegoing

Homegoing

A Novel

Book - 2016 | First edition
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"Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon, and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the troubled spirit of our own nation"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781101947135
1101947136
9781101971062
1101971061
Branch Call Number: Fiction GYASI Y
Characteristics: 305 pages : genealogical table ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

This novel begins in the 18th century with two half-sisters in Ghana. Each subsequent chapter features one of their descendants over the next 300 years.


From the critics


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STPL_Kerry Nov 20, 2020

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!

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Nov 03, 2020

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.

t
trickbag22
Aug 25, 2020

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.

f
funeehunee
Aug 07, 2020

Phenomenal book. I could hardly put it down!

e
ellenorndorf
Apr 12, 2020

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
alfredfrenzel
Feb 24, 2020

5 goodread friends loved it

AnnabelleLee27 Dec 19, 2019

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.

b
bethgarza24
Oct 06, 2019

Nov 19 Difficult Reads

j
Joeybiomaster
Sep 26, 2019

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.

e
EljayJohnson
Jul 28, 2019

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.

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Quotes

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t
trickbag22
Aug 25, 2020

Forgiveness, they shouted, all the while committing their wrongs. When he was younger, Yaw wondered why they did not preach that the people should avoid wrongdoing altogether. But the older he got, the better he understood. Forgiveness was an act done after the fact, a piece of the bad deed’s future and if you point the people’s eyes toward the future, they might not see what is being done to hurt them in the present.

a
abbi_g
Dec 27, 2018

You can learn anything when you have to learn it. You could learn to fly if it meant you would live another day.

s
shayshortt
Oct 06, 2017

You are not your mother’s first daughter. There was one before you. 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.

c
cknightkc
Jan 10, 2017

“History is Storytelling… This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others. Those who were there in the olden days, they told stories to the children so that the children would know, so that the children could tell stories to their children. And so on, and so on. But now we come upon the problem of conflicting stories… Whose story do we believe? 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.” - pages 225 & 226

c
cknightkc
Jan 10, 2017

"Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves." - page 38

r
rebmartin31
Jun 02, 2016

"'Shorter hours, better ventilation, those are things that you should be fighting for.'
[...]
'More money’s what we should be fighting for.'
[...]
'Money’s nice, don’t get me wrong. But mining can be a whole lot safer than what it is. Lives are worth fighting for too.'"

"'When a white man ever listened to a black man?'"

Summary

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s
shayshortt
Oct 06, 2017

Effia and Esi are half-sisters who have never met. First divided by their mother’s secrets, they will soon be divided by an ocean when Esi is sold into slavery and shipped across the Atlantic. Effia remains in Ghana, sold in marriage by her step-mother to the British governor of the Cape Coast Castle, where slaves are held in cramped dungeons before being loaded onto ships bound for America. In present day America, Marjorie wrestles with her identity as a Ghanaian immigrant to the United States, while Marcus struggles to complete his PhD knowing that many young black men of his generation are dead or in jail, and that only chance has kept him from the same fate. In a sweeping family saga, Yaa Gyasi follows the sisters’ bloodlines over hundreds of years, one child from each generation, tracing the impact of colonialism and slavery across the centuries, between Ghana and America.

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