- File Size: 4036 KB
- Print Length: 313 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (June 7, 2016)
- Publication Date: June 7, 2016
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B015VACH4U
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,384 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Homegoing: A novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 313 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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"Spectacular." —Zadie Smith
“Powerful. . . . Compelling. . . . Illuminating.” —The Boston Globe
“A blazing success.” —Los Angeles Times
“I could not put this book down.” —Roxane Gay
“Devastating. . . . Luminous.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A beautiful story.” —Trevor Noah, The Daily Show
“Spellbinding.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Dazzling. . . . Devastating. . . . Truly captivating.” —The Washington Post
“Brims with compassion. . . . Yaa Gyasi has given rare and heroic voice to the missing and suppressed.” —NPR
“Tremendous . . . Spectacular. . . . Essential reading.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Magical. . . . Hypnotic. . . . Yaa Gyasi [is] a stirringly gifted writer.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Powerful. . . . Gyasi has delivered something unbelievably tough to pull off: a centuries-spanning epic of interlinked short stories. . . . She has a poet’s ability to pain a scene with a handful of phrases.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Thanks to Ms. Gyasi’s instinctive storytelling gifts, the book leaves the reader with a visceral understanding of both the savage realities of slavery and the emotional damage that is handed down, over the centuries. . . . By its conclusion, the characters’ tales of loss and resilience have acquired an inexorable and cumulative emotional weight.” —The New York Times
“[Toni Morrison’s] influence is palpable in Gyasi’s historicity and lyricism; she shares Morrison’s uncanny ability to crystalize, in a single event, slavery’s moral and emotional fallout. . . . No novel has better illustrated the way in which racism became institutionalized in this country.” —Vogue
“Gyasi gives voice, and an empathetic ear, to the ensuing seven generations of flawed and deeply human descendants, creating a patchwork mastery of historical fiction.” —Elle
“A remarkable feat—a novel at once epic and intimate, capturing the moral weight of history as it bears down on individual struggles, hopes, and fears. A tremendous debut.” —Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment
“Rich. . . . Fascinating. . . . Each chapter is tightly plotted, and there are suspenseful, even spectacular climaxes.” —Vulture
“[A] commanding debut . . . will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. When people talk about all the things fiction can teach its readers, they’re talking about books like this.” —Marie Claire
“Homegoing weaves a spectacular epic. . . . Gyasi gives voice not just to a single person or moment, but to a resonant chorus of eight generations.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“Moving. . . . Compelling. . . . Gyasi is an enormously talented writer.” —The Dallas Morning News
“I cannot remember the last time I read a novel that made me want to use the adjective perfect. . . . Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing is a feat rarely achieved: a book with the scope of world history and the craft of something much smaller. . . . The cumulative effect is staggering.” —Molly McArdle, Brooklyn Magazine
“Carrying on in the tradition of her foremothers—like Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, Assia Djebar and Bessie Head—Gyasi has created a marvelous work of fiction that both embraces and re-writes history.” —Paste
“Impressive . . . intricate in plot and scope. . . . Homegoing serves as a modern-day reconstruction of lost and untold narratives—and a desire to move forward.” —Miami Herald
“Heart-wrenching . . . . Yaa Gyasi’s assured Homegoing is a panorama of splendid
faces.” —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A remarkable achievement, marking the arrival of a powerful new voice in fiction.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Luminous. . . . The author thrillingly depicts her characters’ migrations from mud-hut villages to Harlem's jazz clubs to Ghana's silvered beaches, celebrating how place and fate shape us all.” —Oprah.com
“Epic . . . a timely, riveting portrayal of the global African Diaspora—and the aftereffects that linger on to this day.” —The Root
“An emotional, beautiful, and remarkable book. . . . Homegoing is stunning—a truly heartbreaking work of literary genius.” —Bustle
“An important, riveting page-turner filled with beautiful prose, Homegoing shoots for the moon and lands right on it.” —Buzzfeed
--This text refers to the paperback edition.
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Effia is sold to a white British lord, living in Africa to negotiate the slave trade, and she spurs a line of descendants who grapple with the impact of the slave trade within Africa. The story of how slavery began in Africa is not one I knew well, and it was heartbreaking and jarring, to learn how the different tribes stalked and captured each other, selling rival sons and daughters and wives to the British, fueling the trade.
Esi is herself captured, and kept in the dungeon of the Castle where her sister lives as the "wench" wife of a British trader, until she is sent through the Middle Passage to America, into slavery. The story of Esi's life in the dungeon, waiting to be shipped she knows not where, like every bit of the book, is so detailed and rich and true that it is astonishing to realize the author is only 26 years old. This book could easily be a lifetime achievement, and instead it is just the beginning of what I imagine will be an amazing body of work.
Homegoing has many, many, many strengths, and perhaps just one weakness. The strengths are found in the story, and in the writing. It is a glory of riches. From the wars between the Asante and Esperante tribes in Africa in the 1700s to the Middle Passage to the slave plantations to life as a freeman in the North to the villages of Africa in the 1800s, to Harlem, through to the impact of the prison culture and drug culture of modern day America, the scope of this book is astonishing. And it is only 300 pages long.
My one wish with the book is that it started to feel a little bit that I was getting a glimpse of a life, when I wanted more. In some ways, the book is a series of interlocking short stories: every chapter is the story of one character, representing that generation There are 14 chapters, I think; seven generations, and Esi, Effia and each of their descendants get one story per generation. So we see Esi in the Dungeon, and on the Middle Passage, but then we do not see her again. We hear from her daughter, Ness, that Esi in America was known as "Frownie" because she never smiled, and that when Ness was born, there was a strange sound heard, which some suspect was the sound of Esi laughing because it was never heard before or since. I cared for Esi, and wished we had heard more of her story after she reached America. Similarly, Ness herself represents the story of slavery, but we only have about 20 pages with her. Those pages are wisely used - I fell in love with her and with Sam, her proud African husband - but again, it is gone so quickly. It was hard not to feel some frustration; these characters and stories started to feel almost wasted, so much richness that we just didn't get a chance to explore.
I came to understand that Ms. Gyasi is telling the story not of one person, or even one family, but instead, tracing a much larger theme, and arc, of the cost of cruelty, and the redeeming power of sacrificial love. The story begins with a slave escaping (an African slave escaping from an African village), and ends hundreds of years later, as two of that slave's descendants return to the village, and to the ocean. It is a promise of healing through the most horrible crimes, for which the most horrible price is paid. On some level, it is so much more powerful than yet another story about a family. And yet - I cared so much for these people, I wish I had known them a bit more. But maybe that is the point as well.
Top international reviews
Each chapter's like a short story about a different member of each generation of the same family, alternating between two sisters' (Esi's and Effia's) bloodlines. For example, the first chapter's about Esi, the second chapter's about Effia, the next two chapters are about their children, the two after that are about their grandchildren and so on. The family tree at the beginning of the book helps to visualise the context across eight different generations.
Each story's compelling in its own right and leaves you begging to know more about the character you're reading about and also what will happen to their progeny after them. I love that it tells so many different stories and yet at the same time, it's essentially one story about one family; one story about the Black Diaspora. I don't want to give anything away, because there are quite a few unexpected twists in the tale, but it alternates between stories about Ghanaian royalty, slavery and slavers across both sides of the Atlantic, the Ashanti-British war in Ghana, freed slaves and the South to North migration in America, missionaries in Ghana, even the coal mine/prison business after slavery ended in America. There are unique insights into commonly told stories such as life in 1960s Harlem and also lesser-known stories such as village life in Ghana.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story. You'll also appreciate it if you're even slightly interested in historical novels or any aspect of the current/past Black Diaspora. I learned more about Ghanaian history, African-American history and possible motivations of different players in both over time. I also gained an insight into the idea of how the actions of each person in a bloodline can affect the generations of their family to come. I feel like I'm both better informed and a more empathetic person for having read this book.
I think this was a very bold debut. And Gyasi mostly rises up to the challenge. I definitely liked the first half of the book more than the second half, the second half did get weighed down by some clichés. I loved some of the characters and their strengths, like the ethics of Quay and the stoicism of Willie. Some relationships are beautiful, particularly that of “mad” Akua and Marjorie. However, some character arches had more potential for development, like that of Sam and Ness. The element of mystery and authenticity was preserved in the way that Marcus and Marjorie never found out that they were related to each other, and that is probably true of so many descendants whose ancestors were nameless slaves once upon a time. The novel will remain a testimonial of the fact that freedom comes at a price and it must be valued and preserved.
The book has the haunting backdrop of slavery, one of the most shameful realities of America and Great Britain. The baggage is a very heavy one to carry; the weight is often borne by generations; also by the tormentor and the sufferer alike. As the stories progress between generations, there is not always a characteristic happier ending, symbolic of the fact that while we may have come a long way; there is a much longer path that lies ahead. Ironically, I finished this book on the day a biracial woman, a descendant of the Southern slaves, walked down the aisle in Windsor Castle to be married into the Royal Family of Great Britain.
The book also reinforced how very recent all this is and the very small mention on the Nation of Islam - although it was I think put into perspective here, did give a flavour of how Imperialism has contributed to our present problems and issues and the book would almost have been incomplete had it not mentioned it.
The characterisation was perfect and the chapter on Yaw broke my heart - Yaa Gyasi has such a poetic way of writing, I loved her style - passages like “memories turning into butterflies and flying away” - gorgeous.
Another powerful concept was how names can often be the only thing left of a family and how calling someone by another name other than their own (common practice amongst white slavers) can, as well as being a personal assault be far wider reaching. It is a form of theft.
On page 244 Sonny explaining how the practice of segregation made him feel his separateness as inequality and that that is what mattered to him, put a slightly different perspective on integration for me.
All in all a brilliant book.
She is a very descriptive and emotional writer and I loved it. My 2017 book of the year!
Homegoing follows seven generations, fourteen perspectives in total. This is a lot of stories to hear. 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 and we follow their descendants on their different journeys.
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 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 more.
The chapters read a bit like short stories, we pick up new characters and follow their journey and then we leave them at the end of the chapter. But this book still feels like one story and the writing, characters and themes flows well. One of the things I enjoyed the most was when starting a new chapter, you were not sure who or where you were starting - then one of the characters would mention a member of their family that you had read about before and all the pieces fall into place. It felt like this book was actually a lot bigger than it was, it covers so much history and touches so many characters but I just flew through it.
As with this topic in general, 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, it is handled and presented well, with sensitivity and emotional awareness.
A great read for anyone that is interested in this subject, sagas over many generations and great writing. It’s hard to believe this is a debut book.
I thought it was a very good debut novel all round, but I was glad to have the paperback version as well as the kindle because of the extensive lineage of both sisters, which was set out at the beginning of book. I found the names and their connections hard to remember, and consulted the family tree many times as I read the book. This made me think that the book could have been a collection of short stories rather than a novel, and was the main reason I hesitated and gave it four stars rather than five.
At times it reminded me of ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison, with other nods towards ‘Half a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I look forward to reading her next book.
Home Going is such a great book, told by one member of each generation as their lives, although similar, are completely different. Their stories being told from their mouths. Not from others.
I can't really put in to words how great these stories are. All I can say, is that you read it and enjoy it for yourself.
My only criticism is the structure - two from each generation, one of each sister's lineage. It gets confusing without a written time line of events. The chapters are titled after the person whose story is being told. I would have liked a quick date and location, ancester link to remind me before I read.
There is a family tree at the beginning of this book which is useful to consult when moving down the generations, but as I am using my kindle to read this, it was difficult having to jump back and forth. A time line of events as well as the family tree would be useful too.
No other comments. Highly recommend this book. It has inspired me to write my own family's stories. Passing down generations and shaping who we are.