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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


by Yaa Gyasi

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The Fante and the Asante are two rival tribes in West Africa. When they fight they take prisoners and many prisoners are handed over to the white soldiers at Cape Castle to become slaves. In the 18th century two sisters are born, they never meet directly but one is 'married' to a white slaver and the other becomes a slave. Over the next seven generations this book follows their descendants through poverty, slavery, madness and success on either side of the Atlantic until there is a return to Cape Castle and two distant cousins come together.

The narrative jumps between two different cultures and the story of the two different families but it is a narrative that reads chronologically. One branch of the family becomes slaves in America and their struggle to gain freedom and independence is heartrending. More confusing was the story of the African branch of the family, but that may just be because I am not familiar with the culture. Overall this was an interesting read, a historical epic covering huge subjects but kept tight in terms of direction and detail. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
Wow. This should be required reading for every white person. The hostory of American slavery told thru the generations of two branches of one African family. Each chapter alternates between the branches and the next generation. And though theyre all separate stories, theyre all connected. Amazingly told and researched. ( )
  mfabriz | Jun 26, 2017 |
Gyasi describes a multi-generational history of the slaves during the Gold Coast slave trade beginning in the late 1700's by the British, following the families all the way to the year 2000 in the U.S. Gyasi focuses on two sisters and their extended families, one of whom marries a British soldier and remains in Africa living a life of luxury, another who is seized from a tribe where her father is royalty and taken by boat to the U.S. in despicable conditions. Gyasi shows how other Gold Coast tribes participate in the slave trade, and highlights how the British take Ghanan wives and treat them well, two things I did not know before. The real strength of the book is in showing how many of the captured slaves were descendants of Ghanan royalty and were accustomed to being treated as such in their own villages. To be sold as slaves and put on boats in deplorable conditions, subject to rape and torture had to tear the soul right out of them. Many were infamous warriors feared by other tribes, whipped into submission by their captors. Their children inherit their anger forcing change in the United States, but not as soon as we thought. Gyasi peppers the book with Ghanan mysticism placing great weight on dreams and totems, and questioning Christianity. Her book begs the question of whether a whole culture's debasement and accompanying fear and hatred can be inherited by future generations along with memories of a different way of life in a different country. This is an eye-opening book and a beautiful and disturbing story. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
A brilliant epic story, demonstrating the vast length of time and number of individuals affected by the slave trade, the legacy following generation after generation after generation. Gyasi filled in a lot of the fuzzy areas of history for me with this history of the people now known as African American, even though it's only part of the story. Gyasi's details are the type that stay in the mind forever. Highly recommended. ( )
  VivienneR | Jun 9, 2017 |
The Short of It:

A story about two women, living very different lives and how their lives form the generations to come.

The Rest of It:

Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. ~ Indiebound

My book club chose this book for June and it was an excellent book to discuss but the book as a whole didn’t work for me. The story is told by different characters, each chapter a story in and of itself. Some of these stories I was very into and others, not so much. The ones that really moved me were often too short and then in no time a new character was being introduced.

What the author did well was give the reader an accurate picture of what it was like for slaves during that time. The details of the horrific living conditions are very hard to read. Although I would have liked to focus on fewer characters, I do think the handling of the characters was does well given the large period of time covered in the novel (eight generations).

What thoroughly added to the discussion was the additional facts provided by our discussion host. Lots of information about the Gold Coast and an explanation of boundaries. If I had read this book on my own I don’t think I would have liked it very much but as a discussion book I think it worked very well.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Jun 6, 2017 |
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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
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.
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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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