Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
A bold and evocative novel shedding light on slavery’s legacy
I read Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi over Easter weekend and it has gone straight to the top of my list of favourite books for 2017.
It’s the story two half sisters are born into different villages in Ghana in the eighteenth century, each unaware of the other. One marries an English slave trader, living in comfort at Cape Coast Castle. The other is captured and imprisoned in the very same castle, and then sold into slavery.
Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem.
It’s an extraordinary novel that shines a powerful light on the legacy of slavery. Gyasi’s approach, with each chapter essentially a new story based around a single character from the next generation, is bold and evocative.
Having been to Ghana on several occasions, and also having visited Cape Coast Castle—one of the most heartbreakingly moving experiences of my life—the book carried extra personal resonance.
It is a rich and emotive book, wonderfully written. Despite the backdrop of slavery though, it avoids feeling heavy.
Highly recommended if you’re after an intelligent, beautiful novel with depth, meaning, and emotion.