Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

5 October 2021
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi, book cover

Homegoing (published by Penguin Books Australia, June 2017), by Brooklyn, New York based Ghanaian-American writer Yaa Gyasi, is a story spanning seven generations and two continents. In the eighteenth century Effia marries an Englishman, and they move into his Cape Coast mansion in Ghana.

Unbeknownst to Effia, her half-sister Esi, who was born in another village in Ghana, is being held captive in the cells below the house, waiting to be sold into slavery. Esi is later sent to a plantation in America. As time moves forward, the stories of both branches of the family are explored through the descendants of Effia and Esi.

Effia’s side of the family contends with long-running wars in Ghana, while Esi’s children and descendants manage to escape slavery, eventually making their way into the jazz clubs of twentieth century Harlem. The violence, hardships, and racism that both sides of the family confront are narrated by Effia and Esi, and six descendants of each.

Despite spanning several centuries, and being seen through the eyes of fourteen different people, Homegoing weighs in at a none too hefty three hundred and twenty pages. It is a brilliance that has seen the book nominated for a slew of literary awards, including the American Book Award, and the International Dublin Literary Award.

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