Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing

by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi X
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2016, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2017, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Winner of the 2016 BookBrowse Debut Author Award

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.

Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle's dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast's booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia's descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi's magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

Effia

The night Effia Otcher was born into the musky heat of Fanteland, a fire raged through the woods just outside her father's compound. It moved quickly, tearing a path for days. It lived off the air; it slept in caves and hid in trees; it burned, up and through, unconcerned with what wreckage it left behind, until it reached an Asante village. There, it disappeared, becoming one with the night.

Effia's father, Cobbe Otcher, left his first wife, Baaba, with the new baby so that he might survey the damage to his yams, that most precious crop known far and wide to sustain families. Cobbe had lost seven yams, and he felt each loss as a blow to his own family. He knew then that the memory of the fire that burned, then fled, would haunt him, his children, and his children's children for as long as the line continued. When he came back into Baaba's hut to find Effia, the child of the night's fire, shrieking into the air, he looked at his wife and said, "We will ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Evaluate the title of the book. Why do you think that the author chose the word Homegoing? What is a homegoing and where does it appear in the novel? In addition to the term's literal meaning, discuss what symbolic meanings or associations the title might have in terms of a connection with our place of birth, our ancestors, our heritage, and our personal and cultural histories.
  2. Explore the theme of belief. What forms of belief are depicted in the book and what purpose do these beliefs seem to serve for the characters? Does the author reveal what has shaped the characters' beliefs? Do these beliefs seem to have a mostly positive or negative impact on the believer and those around them?
  3. What perspective does the book offer on the ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!
  • award image

    Indie Booksellers’ Choice Awards
    2017

  • award image

    BookBrowse Awards
    2016

  • award image

    National Book Critics Circle Awards
    2016

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

...This marvelous debut succeeds in creating an impressive sweep by the sheer dint of powerful writing and narrative scope. “In my village we have a saying about separated sisters,” Esi’s mom tells her. “They are like a woman and her reflection, doomed to stay on opposite sides of the pond.” An ambitious saga that moves back and forth across these “opposite sides of the pond” and weaves a rich and colorful tapestry, Homegoing is an emotionally resonant debut that hints at great things yet to come from an immensely talented storyteller...continued

Full Review (638 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. [The] story elements purposely echo like ghosts - as history often repeats itself - yet Gyasi writes each narrative with remarkable freshness and subtlety. A marvelous novel.

Booklist
The author has done her research, and though the book occasionally reads like a historical overview (each element - the beginning of cocoa cultivation in Ghana, the Fugitive Slave Act, and, later, the convict-lease system in America - feels summarized rather than dealt with dramatically), it has power and beauty, thanks to Gyasi's commanding style.

Kirkus Reviews
A promising debut that's awake to emotional, political, and cultural tensions across time and continents.

Author Blurb Phil Klay, National Book Award winning author of Redeployment
Homegoing is a remarkable feat - a novel at once epic and intimate, capturing the moral weight of history as it bears down on individual struggles, hopes, and fears. A tremendous debut.

Author Blurb Ta-Nehisi Coates, National Book Award winning author of Between the World and Me
I think I needed to read a book like this to remember what is possible. I think I needed to remember what happens when you pair a gifted literary mind to an epic task. Homegoing is an inspiration.

Reader Reviews

Cathryn Conroy

Fierce and Triumphant: A Historical Novel/Family Epic That Will Sear Your Heart and Soul
This a historical novel/family epic masquerading as the most creative collection of short stories I have ever read. The premise: It is the summer of 1775 on the Gold Coast of West Africa. (The Gold Coast was a British Crown colony until its ...   Read More
Nikki

The chapter about Ness
If you are still a serif about the emotional horrors of the slave trade and how it damaged people through out the. The chapter about Ness breaks your heart in ways that are too familiar. I am captivated by this story.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Ashanti Nation and the Gold Coast Slave Trade

Homegoing is set against the backdrop of the Gold Coast slave trade. Protagonists Efii and Esi, the two half-sisters, come from warring states in 18th century Ghana, the Ashantis and the Fantes.

Cape Coast CastleThe Ashanti Nation was a loose group of fiefdoms, an ethnic subgroup that was formed in 17th century Ghana as a trading coalition with the Europeans. The foreigners, mostly Portuguese, were initially most interested in the gold ore — hence the subsequent name, Gold Coast. While the beginnings of the Ashanti (also spelled Ashante) were not very rigid, it was consolidated by the leader Osei Tutu who created a constitution and installed a seat of power in Kumasi. Osei Tutu served as defacto king and the region's most important natural ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Homegoing, try these:

  • The Last Nomad jacket

    The Last Nomad

    by Shugri Said Salh

    Published 2022

    About this book

    "I am the last nomad. My ancestors traveled the East African desert in search of grazing land for their livestock, and the most precious resource of all - water. When they exhausted the land and the clouds disappeared from the horizon, their accumulated ancestral knowledge told them where to move next to find greener pastures. They loaded their ...

  • His Only Wife jacket

    His Only Wife

    by Peace Adzo Medie

    Published 2021

    About this book

    "Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding."

We have 18 read-alikes for Homegoing, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Yaa Gyasi
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine Capó Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Painter's Daughters
    The Painter's Daughters
    by Emily Howes
    Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are sisters and best friends, living an idyllic life in 18th-century ...
  • Book Jacket: Beverly Hills Spy
    Beverly Hills Spy
    by Ronald Drabkin
    When it comes to espionage, not only is truth stranger than fiction, sometimes it can be downright ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
A Great Country
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
A novel exploring the ties and fractures of a close-knit Indian-American family in the aftermath of a violent encounter with the police.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Who Said...

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

S B the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.