Review

Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“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.”

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 305

Rate: 3.5 ⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Synopsis

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi’s magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

My Take

Homegoing is such a wonderful book that deals with important topics that need to be talked about more. As much as I enjoyed reading Homegoing, I found it heavy and at some point I had to put it down and step back from reading. The novel explores slave trade in Ghana and as it goes on, how slave trade was in America and what these people had to go through.

What I liked: Gyasi’s writing is phenomenal and I could read her everyday. Plot is interesting and reading about the parallel lives of two sisters and how the events that happen to their lives, whether good or bad, affect the future generations kept me hooked.

I loved meeting the characters and knowing more about them. I still think about Ness, what really happened to her?

What I didn’t like: I felt like I was reading a book of short stories than a novel, and some stories felt highly incomplete. Not that I don’t like short stories, it just dampen my expectations but didn’t really take away from the story. The ending felt rushed and I wish the story was longer.

“Be careful of fire. Know when to use it and when to stay cold.”

All in all Homegoing is a book that I would recommend to everyone, I believe you would enjoy it. Doesn’t hurt that the cover is beautiful.

Have you read Homegoing? Did you like it? Tell me your thoughts.

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6 thoughts on “Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

  1. Hi Fay!

    I read “Homegoing” in 2017 and found your blog on Instagram last year.
    “Homegoing” was one of my favs and I really enjoyed reading.

    Here in Germany was “Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead published at the same time, but Yaa Gyasis characters where emotional more close to me than Whiteheads “Cora”. I understand your critique, that the chapters seems like short storys. I missed them (also Ness), when the next generation chapter starts…

    Best wishes!

    Jemima

    1. I read the book last year as well and I still couldn’t find the words to express my thoughts, hence the late review.
      I am yet to read Underground Railroad but I hear its intense. I hope to get to it this year.

      Thank you! ????

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