A Novel

Book - 2016
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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 colonist, and will live in comfort, 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, before being shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery.
Publisher: Toronto :, Bond Street Books/Doubleday Canada,, 2016
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780385686136
Characteristics: 305 pages : genealogical table ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

WPLBookClub Jul 21, 2017

The Whistler Public Library and Armchair Books Community Book Club read "Homegoing" in June 2017. While this novel isn't an "easy" read in terms of subject matter, it's an absolute page-turner thanks to the superb storytelling. We all found the family tree at the front of the ... Read More »

SquamishLibraryStaff Jul 04, 2016

In 'Homegoing' Yaa Gyasi tackles the politics of race and the legacy of slavery through a brilliant sweeping intergenerational saga spanning two continents.
The stories and chapters alternate between the stories of the two sisters and their decendants beginning from the roots of slavery on the g... Read More »

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AL_ANNAL Feb 14, 2018

A compelling, clear-eyed saga stretching over 200 years and from Ghana to the U.S. The African slave trade and its legacy and the worst and best of humanity.

Feb 10, 2018

An enjoyable and interesting read, even if it continually jumps forward into different generations of the same family. Still, well written with a good dose of relatable history. I'd entertain another novel by this author.

Jan 22, 2018

GREAT book. I liked the concept of moving from generation to generation - it gives a history lesson without ever feeling like it. Only problem is I kept getting so attached to the characters and then it would move on to the next, leaving me wondering what happened to them.

Jan 12, 2018

Just when I really cared about a character and their situation, the author moved on to a descendant. I was frustrated because I wanted to know more. More fully developed, each of the characters could have been their own short book.

CircMary Jan 12, 2018

This book started my new year of reading off with a bang. The parallel stories of the two families was engaging throughout. It left me wishing we could learn the whole life story of each and every character.

AL_ANDREW Dec 11, 2017

Well written and structured, Homegoing avoids the trap that usually turns me away from the "family saga" genre by only spending a single chapter on each family member.

Oct 23, 2017

A book to be read and reread. A remarkable tale of the slave trade from the perspective of the European slavers as well as the many tribes involved in the trade as both victims and perpetrators. The book moves through centuries and extended families on two continents and eight generations. Though the stories of individuals we are offered the epic tale of forced migration to America, the horror of slavery, the chaos following the Civil War and the movement northward for jobs and independence. At the same time we are following the generations through the development of Ghana from a tribal, warring, slave trading nation. Each chapter is a nugget of the broader story and an intimate peak into the lives of one or more of the participants. So much is beautifully captured in a mere 300 pages.

Oct 06, 2017

Homegoing is a multigenerational epic that walks the fine line between hope, anger, and despair as the tales of Esi and Effia’s descendants unspool. Each chapter is a slice of life set against the background of a particular historical era, be it the Great Migration or the War of the Golden Stool. The full effect of the novel is such that in the end, the reader knows more about Marcus and Marjorie’s families than they do, the fall out of slavery and colonialism depriving them of their history and culture. The book is a potent reminder that the history is always there, just beneath the surface, and that the story has always been waiting to be told, though the voice of the victors has long drowned it out.

You can find my full view at Required Reading: https://shayshortt.com/2017/10/05/homegoing/

Aug 21, 2017

This was Roots: the sequel. I wonder if it was her master's thesis?

Aug 08, 2017

This book was incredible. I loved the concept and the execution. It felt very black feminist which is fantastic, too. Just amazing and I recommend this to everyone.

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Oct 06, 2017

You are not your mother’s first daughter. There was one before you. And in my village we have a saying about separated sisters. They are like a woman and her reflection, doomed to stay on opposite sides of the pond.

Jan 10, 2017

“History is Storytelling… This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others. Those who were there in the olden days, they told stories to the children so that the children would know, so that the children could tell stories to their children. And so on, and so on. But now we come upon the problem of conflicting stories… Whose story do we believe? 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.” - pages 225 & 226

Jan 10, 2017

"Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves." - page 38

Jun 02, 2016

"'Shorter hours, better ventilation, those are things that you should be fighting for.'
'More money’s what we should be fighting for.'
'Money’s nice, don’t get me wrong. But mining can be a whole lot safer than what it is. Lives are worth fighting for too.'"

"'When a white man ever listened to a black man?'"


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Oct 06, 2017

Effia and Esi are half-sisters who have never met. First divided by their mother’s secrets, they will soon be divided by an ocean when Esi is sold into slavery and shipped across the Atlantic. Effia remains in Ghana, sold in marriage by her step-mother to the British governor of the Cape Coast Castle, where slaves are held in cramped dungeons before being loaded onto ships bound for America. In present day America, Marjorie wrestles with her identity as a Ghanaian immigrant to the United States, while Marcus struggles to complete his PhD knowing that many young black men of his generation are dead or in jail, and that only chance has kept him from the same fate. In a sweeping family saga, Yaa Gyasi follows the sisters’ bloodlines over hundreds of years, one child from each generation, tracing the impact of colonialism and slavery across the centuries, between Ghana and America.

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