"Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi
Half-sisters Effia and Esi have never met nor do they know that the other one exists. They were born in different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana to the same mother, but after that their lives take two very different paths.
Against the hopes of her father, Effia marries an Englishman and lives in the comforts of the Cape Coast Castle where her husband is involved in the slave trade. Their children are educated abroad and grow up to become involved in the administration of the British Empire in Africa. Esi is captured and sold into slavery, imprisoned in the dungeon of the Cape Coast Castle before she is shipped off to America. From Ghana to America, each generation that follows these women face very different circumstances and challenges in their lives but each remain intrinsically tied to the African continent.
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi, is a masterpiece of a novel and is the debut novel that people will be talking about for years to come.
It is only May but I am declaring this my favourite book of the year and I know for sure that no book I read from here on will come close to taking that away from it. It is not just the subject matter (which Gyasi tackles fantastically) but the way that it is written. I am so taken by the way the book goes back and forth between the lines of Effia and Esi, each chapter moving to the next generation of the lineage to show the lasting effects of the slave trade on the African people. I also love how we get just a little bit of each story, left wanting more from each and every person and yet still satisfied.
The subject matter in this book is deep but it is honest and rooted in the history of Ghana and the United States. Covering the wars of Ghana, the slave trade to America, colonialism, the Civil War, the Great Migration, and Harlem in the twentieth-century, everything comes together for an incredible read.
It is inevitable that this book will be compared to The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, which will be based on the subject matter mostly. This book does deserve to be mentioned along with Hill’s book because of the strength of its writing but the book also deserves to stand on its own away from any comparisons to others.
It is incredible to me that this book is written by a debut author in the her mid-twenties. There has been so much love for this book in the past year and the build-up has been incredible given the buzz and praise for this book from the industry. And having now read it, I can honestly say that this book absolutely deserves the love. I just can’t stop talking about this book and Yaa Gyasi is a name that we all will be talking about for decades to come.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. The opinions expressed above are my own.