Pressing Pause

Homegoing: A novel - Yaa Gyasi

As typically happens, I can't remember were I first heard about Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It might have been something that came across the BookRIOT feed or a newspaper review. 


Homegoing, the first published novel by Yaa Gyasi, starts with two half-sisters in Ghana near the end of the 18th century.  Effia marries a British man posted to the Cape Coast Castle (though he also has a white wife at home). Her family stays in the part of Africa that eventually becomes Ghana.  Esi is captured in the tribal wars, sold to the British, and then again in the American South.  Homegoing follows Effia and Esi's families through 7 generations and approximately 250 years.


There's a charm to multi-generational family stories.  The best personalize history and give you an insight into how the world has changed. But the breadth of the timeline is often implemented at the expense of the depth of the characters or space to allow them to grow and change.  While the individual vignettes of Homegoing are nicely drawn, as soon as I felt like I was getting to know a character, zap, the perspective shifted to the other family or the next generation.  


I started Homegoing because I felt the need for a change in the tone and genre of what I was reading. In this season of increasing racial tensions, it seemed important to give space in my reading life to Homegoing.  I'm not declaring a DNF, but after approximately 60% of the book, I'm pushing pause to listen to something lighter for a bit before returning to the atrocities of the US in the years immediately following the end of the Civil War.