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Homegoing Paperback – 5 October 2017
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I think I needed to read a book like this to remember what is possible. I think I needed to remember what happens when you pair a gifted literary mind to an epic task. Homegoing is an inspiration -- Ta-Nehisi Coates, National Book Award winning author of 'Between the World and Me'
Wildly ambitious debut by a 26-year-old writer . . . It's impossible not to admire the ambition and scope of Homegoing -- Michiko Kakutani ― New York Times
Remarkable, is a devastating account of America....explores horror without ever losing sight of humanity or hope ― Sunday Times 3 To Watch
[A] commanding debut . . . will stay with you long after you've finished reading. When people talk about all the things fiction can teach its readers, they're talking about books like this ― Marie Claire
Gyasi gives voice, and an empathetic ear, to the ensuing seven generations of flawed and deeply human descendants, creating a patchwork mastery of historical fiction ― Elle
An astonishing epic debut ― Observer
Homegoing is a novel I wish I could have read when I was a young woman. An intelligent, beautiful and healing read, destined to become a classic -- Zadie Smith
Homegoing is one hell of a book... I recommend Homegoing without reservation. Definitely a must read for 2016. -- Roxane Gay
The brilliance of this structure, in which we know more than the characters do about the fate of their parents and children, pays homage to the vast scope of slavery without losing sight of its private devastation . . . . [Toni Morrison's] influence is palpable in Gyasi's historicity and lyricism; she shares Morrison's uncanny ability to crystalize, in a single event, slavery's moral and emotional fallout. What is uniquely Gyasi's is her ability to connect it so explicitly to the present day: No novel has better illustrated the way in which racism became institutionalized in this country. ― Vogue US
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- Publisher : Penguin (5 October 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0241975239
- ISBN-13 : 978-0241975237
- Item Weight : 225 g
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
- Generic Name : Book
- Best Sellers Rank: #26,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Homegoing opens in the eighteenth century with the story of Effia, followed by the story of Esi. Effia and Esi are half-sisters born to the same mother but in different tribes in Ghana. Effia is married off to an English Slave Trader and Esi is sold into slavery. The whole book is divided into short stories of Effia and Esi’s bloodline though time, going to and fro from Effia and Esi’s descendents for six generations and 300 years. Each chapter has a different point of view, telling the story of a new character.
Each generation/character’s story is so beautifully written that I kept wanting to read more about the character and his/her struggle. You are uprooted from each story and put into another, though the transition is smooth (not really), but then each character is so intriguing that it took me a couple of moments to process the whole thing before diving into another story. The struggles of these characters, the kind of abuse and brutality they had to endure, is heartbreaking, especially when you know that it isn’t far from the reality. I had such a hard time finishing this book, not because I dint like it, but because I kept feeling so much for each character, like he/she were my own child and I wanted to protect and love him/her and tell them everything will be fine in the end (which would be a lie). It was crazy. I wish this book dint have an end.
Reading this book was the best part of my day, it doesn’t make you feel fuzzy and wonderful about the world. It is filled with death, horror and violence and can get extremely brutal. African history, slave trade, life in America, conditions of slaves in the new world, insidious forms of racism and violence, the injustice in the name of law. It is not an easy read emotionally.
Knowing that we live in a better world now makes me so happy. Knowing that we have a voice out there telling significant stories with such grace, a voice that had once been suppressed, going us a clearer, yet simply imperfect, picture of the past.
The inescapable realms of destiny, the stage of sadness, the enchantments of the language and the curse forging the generations of mankind will keep you dry at heart but moisten your breath.
Effia is married to an Englishman and thus to his comforts. Unaware she is, that just beneath her castle’s dungeons is her sister Esi- marked with the manacles of slavery.
The story is woven around history’s tenacious tentacles clinging on to a family’s fate. Adulterating both in due course of time.
Delightfully hideous in awakening the past of a country, having slavery etched to its existence (America).
The story shall give you a picturesque
attribution, detailing how insignificant human efforts can be, in their brawl with history.
It’s truly a piece of gem! Can’t be missed.
It's beautiful, and heart wrenching tale. The writing is lucid and exquisite with some very thought provoking quotes worth annotating.
Top reviews from other countries
Each chapter's like a short story about a different member of each generation of the same family, alternating between two sisters' (Esi's and Effia's) bloodlines. For example, the first chapter's about Esi, the second chapter's about Effia, the next two chapters are about their children, the two after that are about their grandchildren and so on. The family tree at the beginning of the book helps to visualise the context across eight different generations.
Each story's compelling in its own right and leaves you begging to know more about the character you're reading about and also what will happen to their progeny after them. I love that it tells so many different stories and yet at the same time, it's essentially one story about one family; one story about the Black Diaspora. I don't want to give anything away, because there are quite a few unexpected twists in the tale, but it alternates between stories about Ghanaian royalty, slavery and slavers across both sides of the Atlantic, the Ashanti-British war in Ghana, freed slaves and the South to North migration in America, missionaries in Ghana, even the coal mine/prison business after slavery ended in America. There are unique insights into commonly told stories such as life in 1960s Harlem and also lesser-known stories such as village life in Ghana.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story. You'll also appreciate it if you're even slightly interested in historical novels or any aspect of the current/past Black Diaspora. I learned more about Ghanaian history, African-American history and possible motivations of different players in both over time. I also gained an insight into the idea of how the actions of each person in a bloodline can affect the generations of their family to come. I feel like I'm both better informed and a more empathetic person for having read this book.
I think this was a very bold debut. And Gyasi mostly rises up to the challenge. I definitely liked the first half of the book more than the second half, the second half did get weighed down by some clichés. I loved some of the characters and their strengths, like the ethics of Quay and the stoicism of Willie. Some relationships are beautiful, particularly that of “mad” Akua and Marjorie. However, some character arches had more potential for development, like that of Sam and Ness. The element of mystery and authenticity was preserved in the way that Marcus and Marjorie never found out that they were related to each other, and that is probably true of so many descendants whose ancestors were nameless slaves once upon a time. The novel will remain a testimonial of the fact that freedom comes at a price and it must be valued and preserved.
The book has the haunting backdrop of slavery, one of the most shameful realities of America and Great Britain. The baggage is a very heavy one to carry; the weight is often borne by generations; also by the tormentor and the sufferer alike. As the stories progress between generations, there is not always a characteristic happier ending, symbolic of the fact that while we may have come a long way; there is a much longer path that lies ahead. Ironically, I finished this book on the day a biracial woman, a descendant of the Southern slaves, walked down the aisle in Windsor Castle to be married into the Royal Family of Great Britain.
The book also reinforced how very recent all this is and the very small mention on the Nation of Islam - although it was I think put into perspective here, did give a flavour of how Imperialism has contributed to our present problems and issues and the book would almost have been incomplete had it not mentioned it.
The characterisation was perfect and the chapter on Yaw broke my heart - Yaa Gyasi has such a poetic way of writing, I loved her style - passages like “memories turning into butterflies and flying away” - gorgeous.
Another powerful concept was how names can often be the only thing left of a family and how calling someone by another name other than their own (common practice amongst white slavers) can, as well as being a personal assault be far wider reaching. It is a form of theft.
On page 244 Sonny explaining how the practice of segregation made him feel his separateness as inequality and that that is what mattered to him, put a slightly different perspective on integration for me.
All in all a brilliant book.
Home Going is such a great book, told by one member of each generation as their lives, although similar, are completely different. Their stories being told from their mouths. Not from others.
I can't really put in to words how great these stories are. All I can say, is that you read it and enjoy it for yourself.
My only criticism is the structure - two from each generation, one of each sister's lineage. It gets confusing without a written time line of events. The chapters are titled after the person whose story is being told. I would have liked a quick date and location, ancester link to remind me before I read.
There is a family tree at the beginning of this book which is useful to consult when moving down the generations, but as I am using my kindle to read this, it was difficult having to jump back and forth. A time line of events as well as the family tree would be useful too.
No other comments. Highly recommend this book. It has inspired me to write my own family's stories. Passing down generations and shaping who we are.