Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

As I sit in front of my computer, trying to piece together a review, I have found Homegoing is incredibly hard to write about. What do I mention first? The vivid descriptions that transports you through pages? The way every character is so individual yet related to every character before them? The deeply political yet never condescending writing? Rarely have I been so blown away by a novel, especially a debut.

booktalk-532c4a2f3d3a64a8It is hard to describe the sweeping epicness of Homegoing in one short review. The novel follows the family tree of two half sisters throughout the course of 300 years. Each chapter intimately describes a member of the family as they move from the Gold Coast, to Alabama, then to Harlem, and more.

“The news made it sound like the fault lay with the blacks of Harlem. The violent, the crazy, the monstrous black people who had the gall to demand that their children not be gunned down in the streets.”

What captivates me most when reading is usually the setting or characters, and Gyasi writes both wonderfully. With fourteen main characters, it can be confusing to remember who’s who, but Gyasi makes a point of creating a unique cast of characters, both in motives and personality. This is not to say you can see som hereditary traits that most orall characters possess- but how they utilize these traits is always different.

My one minor qualm with Homegoing was the fact that characters are so densely interwoven so if one connection slips your mind, a whole section of the book will not make sense. Especially as the novel wound closer to the end, character chapters seemed more like vignettes meant to illustrate a politcal period than a bigger picture. This is no problem if you are great at recalling small details from past chapters, but I had to religiously glance back at the family tree in the beginning of the book.

“All people on the black continent must give up their heathenism and turn to God. Be thankful that the British are here to show you how to live a good and moral life.”

I cannot repeat it enough- Homegoing is a novel you simply cannot miss. If you read one book this year, Gyasi’s debut should be it.

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