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Homegoing

Homegoing

Book - 2016
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Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonist, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising "half-caste" children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon, before being shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the intricacies of the troubled yet hopeful human spirit.
Publisher: [Toronto, Ontario] : Bond Street Books, Doubleday Canada, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780385686136
Branch Call Number: GYASI
Characteristics: 305 pages : genealogical table ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

An intense multigenerational saga told through two half-sisters, Effa and Esi, and their
descendants. Set in Ghana in the 18th century, one sister marries an Englishman while the
other is captured during a village raid and sold into slavery destined for America. Their
alternating, parallel storie... Read More »

This book reads a bit like a short story, multi-generational version of The Book of Negroes. Two half-sisters are raised in very different worlds in 18th century Ghana. One is married to a white slave trader, who unwittingly sells her sister and sends her to America. The story follows two charact... Read More »

This book reads a bit like a short story, multi-generational version of The Book of Negroes. Two half-sisters are raised in very different worlds in 18th century Ghana. One is married to a white slave trader, who unwittingly sells her sister and sends her to America. The story follows two charact... Read More »

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librarylil Aug 31, 2016

This one was suggested by Lahring Tribe who said if you read only one book this summer this should be it.


From the critics


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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

s
SarahLouiseMurphy7
Dec 26, 2020

Gorgeous, eye-opening book. A must-read!

STPL_Kerry Nov 20, 2020

This book is stunning. As soon as I finished the last word I wanted to start it over so I could absorb any detail I might have missed. A must read!

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Quotes

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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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