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Homegoing

by Yaa Gyasi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,5742761,835 (4.27)527
"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 colonial, 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, and then 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's has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the troubled spirit of our own nation"--… (more)
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» See also 527 mentions

English (264)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  Latvian (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (274)
Showing 1-5 of 264 (next | show all)
Deeply compelling novel that begins with two sisters in what is now Ghana in the eighteenth century. One is captured, transported across the Atlantic, and sold into slavery. The other marries a British colonial official, and remains in Africa. The novel traces the lives of their descendants up to the present, telling powerful stories and creating compelling characters. The parts that take place in Africa were fascinating to me, because I know so little about it. The parts that take place in the US were emotionally devastating. ( )
  annbury | Apr 13, 2024 |
From the 1700s until the present day, the slave trade has poisoned American and Ghanian society and all involved.

"When someone does wring...it is like a fisherman casting a net into the water. He keeps only one or two fishtail he needs to
feed himself and puts the rest in the water, thinking that their lives will go back to normal. No one forgets that they were once captive, even if they are now free." (p. 242)

For Maame' descendants, the consequences reverberate over generations filled with loss and grief, and remembering is painful:
"Hell was a place of remembering each beautiful moment passed through the mind's eye until it fell to the ground like a rotten mango, perfectly useless, uselessly perfect. " (p.28)
Each chapter combines a personal vignette with historical context...most living their lives"the way most people lived their lives, on upper levels, not stopping to peer underneath. "...characters affected by historic as well as contemporaneous events.

After reading this novel, readers will hopefully remember this important message:
"Now we come upon the problem of conflicting stories...Whose story do we believe, then? ...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 ask yourself, 'Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? (p. 226) ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
Hit, miss or epic fail, I love random book purchases from charity shops influenced purely by cover and blurb.
The novel opens with a family tree spanning seven generations starting with Maame, the mother of half-sisters Effia and Esi, and is perfect for keeping track of which side of the tree the descendants originate from.
Effia and Esi are born under different circumstances and destined to lead different lives, unaware of the other’s existence. Effia becomes the wife of white slave trader James Collins and lives in luxury at Cape Coast Castle. Fleeing her besieged village, Esi is captured, sold and held in the dungeons of the very same castle before being shipped to America.
Each chapter is a stand-alone novella, the whole a masterpiece in storytelling as the family history turns full circle through fire and water, war and division, America and Africa. From the barbarity and inhumanity of slavery in the deep south to no-holds-barred racism and discrimination in the north, from merciless missionaries in Kumasi to the poverty, rivalries and trading in the villages, Home Going doesn’t pull any punches yet still manages to provide hope.
Relevant, thought-provoking and highly recommended. A hit! ( )
  geraldine_croft | Mar 21, 2024 |
Gyasi uses the stories of multiple characters through the generations to tell the history of the slave trade on Ghana's Cape Coast and to illustrate generational trauma. This is the way history should be taught, in my opinion, but I did not enjoy Gyasi's style of dropping the reader into a new character's storyline years later and then backtracking to explain how they became who they are. It's an important history to tell but not a terribly pleasant one to read. ( )
  bookappeal | Feb 25, 2024 |
Never Ending Story

Media:Audio
Read by: Dominic Hoffman
Length: 13 hrs and 11 mins

Homegoing tells multiple stories from over 300years of Ghanian history through the eyes of fourteen people over seven generations and two continents, Africa and America.

The fourteen individuals are presented one by one, alternating between each branch of a family that splits between two Ghanaian nations.

The links between generations form two single strands from the huge binary tree whose root starts with one man and his progeny - the half-sisters raised separately. Subsequent generations are followed, two from each branch chosen from maternal or paternal lines with no apparent pattern.

Each generation-2 sister is given half of a black stone that is meant to be passed down to their children for generations. How this happens isn’t really dealt with but it’s no surprise that at least one half survives whole for 300 years.

At about generation-4 I started to lose track of the two branches of the family but did try to follow the stone. Admittedly this lack of pattern as to which two sub-branches would be in the next two chapters made the book interesting. I was forced to concentrate. Who had the stone? Who married who in the previous generation? What happened to the other children? I never knew who would pop up in the next chapters.

To add to the morass, there are multiple time shifts per chapter. I started counting them for interest. In at least one chapter time shifts within a single paragraph. While listening to Ness reminisce about her life, time shifts from her “present” situation to her early childhood memories, both presented “in the moment”. Later in Harlem I was in an apartment with Willie and in the next sentence I’m with her and her father “H” from previous generation in Pratt City. Stories within stories ending in jumps to another story in another time and place.

But it’s not the time-shifts that are distracting, it the overuse of metaphors. There are paragraphs of them. I started seeing them multiply along with the expanding generation-tree. As Gyasi herself writes “The family is like the forest: if you are outside it is dense; if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.”.

I could forgive the grating metaphors. However the book failed to grab me. Especially in the early slave scenes where descriptions didn’t capture the period or place adequately. Early descriptions such as that of life in the British slave dungeon lacked substance and I remained outside, never feeling that the events were real though knowing they were.

A mediocre novel, adequately written, worth the effort if you have the time and don’t mind a mountain of metaphors. ( )
  kjuliff | Feb 25, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 264 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yaa Gyasiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hoffman, DominicNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bastia, ValeriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burton, NathanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Damour, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grube, AnetteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoekmeijer, NicoletteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ravnhid, Louise ArdenfeltTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Abusua te sε kwaε: sε wo wɔ akyire a wo hunu sε εbom; sε wo bεn ho a na wo hunu sε nnua no bia sisi ne baabi nko.

The family is like the forest: if you are outside it is dense: if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.

—AKAN PROVERB
Dedication
For my parents and for my brothers
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The night Effia Otcher was born into the musky heat of Fanteland, a fire raged through the woods just outside her father's compound.
Quotations
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.
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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 colonial, 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, and then 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's has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the troubled spirit of our own nation"--

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amazon ca :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.
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