HomegoingBook - 2016
From the critics
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Forgiveness, they shouted, all the while committing their wrongs. When he was younger, Yaw wondered why they did not preach that the people should avoid wrongdoing altogether. But the older he got, the better he understood. Forgiveness was an act done after the fact, a piece of the bad deed’s future and if you point the people’s eyes toward the future, they might not see what is being done to hurt them in the present.
You can learn anything when you have to learn it. You could learn to fly if it meant you would live another day.
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.
“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
"Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves." - page 38
"'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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This ambitious novel, published when Gyasi was only 26-years-old, is a historical family saga spanning seven generations across two continents and a fantastic read to really sink one's teeth into! Beginning in 18th-century West Africa, Homegoing follows the descending lines of two half-sisters. Alternating between family lines, each proceeding chapter follows a new character and generation. Effia’s family experiences the devastating legacy of British colonialism and the tumultuous relations between the warring Fante and Asante peoples. Esi’s descendants in America live through the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement. Although the perspective is constantly changing, Gyasi is able to create distinct, fully-fledged, and memorable characters in the short time they are present. -- Baileigh F. at Walker Library
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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