‘This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see or hear or experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others.’
Homegoing is an intricate web winding through history, following the personal experiences of generations of people from 1700s to modern day. Each chapter presents a new character and builds upon the characters and experiences of the prior chapters.
Yaa Gyasi takes the reader on a journey from Ghana to the United States, witnessing the horrors of the slave trade, the Civil War, chain gangs, Harlem’s drug trade in 1960s, the struggles of racial prejudices and the way in which we are moving forward today, whilst bearing witness to the atrocities of the past.
This novel is a profound piece of art. It’s bold and beautiful in its form and within the masterpiece are hidden messages found in its careful narration. This intricate web that winds through history is that masterpiece; written with precison and depth of understanding. It is hard to believe that this novel is Yaa Gyasi’s first. Her writing is clever, intense and heartfelt. There are quotes that will stay with me and passages that are unforgettable. ‘No one forgets that they were once captive, even if they are now free. But, still, Yaw, you have to let yourself be free.’
Each chapter revolves around a new character and each character is memorable and uniquely portrayed. The story begins with Esi and Effia, two sisters from the same world originally, whose futures are vastly different. The chapters evolve, layer upon layer and I looked forward with anticipation what the next chapter would hold.
Homegoing is a must read novel and I will certainly be re reading this one. I have gained more than I could have ever imagined from it. I hope to see this novel on the HSC English reading list. The powerful themes would impact upon students and the discussions would be worthwhile. If you’re looking for a novel you won’t want to put down, read this one.
I am excited to read more of Yaa Gyasi’s work! What a novel, what an insight into history.