Homegoing by Ghanaian Yaa Gyasi is a tale of finding one’s place in an otherwise hostile world. It is a story about two half-sisters, Esi and Effia that are unaware of each other’s existence as they are separated by forces beyond their control. Esi is sold into slavery while Effia is married off to a British slaver.
Esi is held in inhumane conditions beneath a castle that houses the African wives of the British Soldiers, before being shipped off to America.
The book, that opens in the 1770s Ghana (Gold Coast) then traces the generations of the families of the two sisters that follow, as destiny, or is it fate, leads them through two different continents, Africa and America and three hundred years of history without the story feeling rushed and incomplete. There are two threads in this story. One thread follows Effia’s descendants through Ghana, as the two kingdoms of the Fante and the Asante wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her descendants as they grapple with slavery and the injustices that Black people suffered. From the cotton plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, the coal mines of Pratt City, to Harlem, right up through the present day where the story comes full circle when two descendants of Effia and Esi finally meet.
The book deals with issues of slavery, racism, British colonization, sexism, the things people will do in the name of God, religion and belonging.
It’s a socially relevant novel especially in these times that are racially charged and it is so beautifully written. I can’t wait to see/read what other work Yaa Gyasi is going to write. Its clear though that she’s going to have a successful career as an author and she’s got a big fan in me!