Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

cover

Spanning two continents and over three hundred years of history, Homegoing tells the story of two half-sisters, one sold into slavery and the other married to a white slaver, and their descendants. The novel alternates between the two bloodlines (don’t worry, there is a convenient family tree in the book so you can keep everyone straight) and manages to pack a wealth of stories, and histories, in a fairly compact space.

Wow. Just wow. What a debut. I’m usually quite skeptical of critically acclaimed first-time novelists (especially when they are as young as this – Gyasi was only 26 when this was published!) but this is deserving of all the hype. Engaging on so many levels – I loved the characters, the details, the myriad of experiences and perspectives on offer. The structure is incredibly inventive and effective – my only complaint would be that I wanted to read even more about each of the individual characters.

Race, gender, politics, power – Gyasi doesn’t provide easy answers or simple condemnations but expect to be engaged in discussions of all of the aforementioned. As I said before, it’s incredible what Gyasi manages to fit in such a small space (the novel is only about 300 pages long) but it never feels forced or overstuffed and she never loses sight of the personal stories in the interest of politics. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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