Homegoing

Homegoing

Book - 2016
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Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations marked by wealth, slavery, war, coal mining, the Great Migration and the realities of 20th-century Harlem.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781101947135
1101947136
Branch Call Number: F
Characteristics: 305 pages : genealogical table ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Historical fiction that begins in 18th century Ghana with two half-sisters, one sold into slavery and one who marries into a prominent family, and the experiences of the subsequent generations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

This multi-generational saga tells the story of two half-sisters, unknown to each other, that are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations.

Gyasi's powerful novel follows the descendants of half-sisters Effia and Esi over several generations in America and Africa, showing the effects of colonialism and slavery.

h, Gemini- while your sign may be the Twins, this tale of two half-sisters and their descendants over the next 300 years will have you remembering why you read: to experience and explore worlds that are not like your own.

Homegoing opens in 18th-century West Africa and introduces two half-sisters whose fates could not be more different. There's Effia, who becomes the mistress of a British slave-trader, and Esi, who survives the Middle Passage only to live out her days in bondage on an American plantation. In the c... Read More »


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b
bsarkar
May 25, 2021

Are you kidding me with this book?? It is AMAZING. I can’t believe the author is 26 and that this is her first novel. It’s unreal.

The book spans two branches of a family. One branch ends up in the USA as a result of slavery and the other stays on the Gold Coast. The families’ members on both sides of the Atlantic are all affected by the slave trade. There is not much of a narrative arc as the stories of each new generation ties only loosely to the story of the previous generation. This storytelling choice adds to the depth of the tale because it highlights how each generation’s trauma informs the subsequent generation’s pain. My only quibble with the book is that I wish that she had included more generations or family members from recent times.

s
susan_findlay
May 12, 2021

Best viewed as a series of connected short stories rather than a novel per se, this well written book ambitiously tells the tale of generations affected by slavery. Each second chapter starts a new generation as they alternate between a line of the family descended from a woman sent to America on a slave ship and a line of the family descended from her half sister left behind in Africa. In this way, the reader learns both about the impact of the slave trade on Africa itself as well as the black experience in North America over the generations (and the ways in which many black populations were mistreated long after slavery was outlawed).

While some of the short stories are definitely stronger/more compelling than others, they are all essential to the flow of the book and the telling of the story.

gomegan Apr 28, 2021

The story is heartbreaking, yet hopeful. The audiobook is a joy to listen to with its changing narration based on time period. A must-read or listen.

ArapahoeJulia Apr 26, 2021

This was a powerful and important read. Yaa Gyasi is an amazing storyteller and I love her ability to show the fullness of a story... to show not just good and bad, but the nuanced and the complex.

r
ryner
Apr 26, 2021

Though they have never met, sisters Effia and Esi live in 18th-century Ghana in western Africa, at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. One of them will marry a high-ranking British official, while the other will be captured, sold and thrust into a brutal and inhumane life of bondage. This engaging and stirring family saga follows generations of their descendants — though hardship and heartbreak, joy and triumph.

This novel was both amazing and achingly disturbing. It paints a clear picture of how real human lives, not to mention entire cultures, were irrevocably altered and devastated by slavery and colonialism. It places humanity, names and faces onto people who lived so long go and whose fates were so similar that they are otherwise rendered collectively anonymous today. Highly recommended.

q
QAGeek
Mar 25, 2021

Good Reads recommendation

n
notAnn2000
Mar 23, 2021

Excellent book.

c
cwaddick_0
Mar 03, 2021

Me and my book club could not get past the horrific cruel beginning chapters. In time l did manage to finish turned out to be a decent read. I would never recommend it

k
kellyvigurs
Jan 27, 2021

rec from hillary

HCL_staff_reviews Jan 04, 2021

This ambitious novel, published when Gyasi was only 26-years-old, is a historical family saga spanning seven generations across two continents and a fantastic read to really sink one's teeth into! Beginning in 18th-century West Africa, Homegoing follows the descending lines of two half-sisters. Alternating between family lines, each proceeding chapter follows a new character and generation. Effia’s family experiences the devastating legacy of British colonialism and the tumultuous relations between the warring Fante and Asante peoples. Esi’s descendants in America live through the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement. Although the perspective is constantly changing, Gyasi is able to create distinct, fully-fledged, and memorable characters in the short time they are present. -- Baileigh F. at Walker Library

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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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w
Weezie5431
Feb 20, 2021

This ambitious novel, published when Gyasi was only 26-years-old, is a historical family saga spanning seven generations across two continents and a fantastic read to really sink one's teeth into! Beginning in 18th-century West Africa, Homegoing follows the descending lines of two half-sisters. Alternating between family lines, each proceeding chapter follows a new character and generation. Effia’s family experiences the devastating legacy of British colonialism and the tumultuous relations between the warring Fante and Asante peoples. Esi’s descendants in America live through the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement. Although the perspective is constantly changing, Gyasi is able to create distinct, fully-fledged, and memorable characters in the short time they are present. -- Baileigh F. at Walker Library

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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