Archive for August, 2016

Homegoing

Monday, August 8th, 2016

UnknownBy Yaa Gyasi

The Short Take:

Gyasi gives us an excellent novel in the Roots tradition, but much more compelling as it follows two branches of the same family: one side participating in the slave trade in Africa, the other side its victims. Elegantly written, insightful — this book will change you.

Why?

This is Gyasi’s first novel and it’s a stellar debut. By following the descendants of two half sisters — one whose fate and family is tied to the slave traders, and one who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, Gyasi shows the dire consequences this horrendous practice had on all its participants.

She uses more than words to tell her story. Gyasi incorporates mystical elements, particularly dreams that come true or offer windows to the past. There are traditional songs that come to America with the slaves, but old meanings become lost, replaced, or reinterpreted ¬†as generations pass. While parents try to teach children about their homeland and culture, those teachings, too, become warped and misunderstood. Most of all, Gyazi’s distinctive writing style graces every page. All her elements — beyond the compelling narrative — unite for an exceptional novel.

I harbor a special admiration for books that teach me new things and send me to the Internet to learn more. This book led to long list of things to research, from the Golden Stool of the Asante (Ashanti) to the hiring of convicts to work in the coal mines of Alabama.

Read Homegoing. It will enrich you in every way.

A Little Plot:

In the 18th century, two half-sisters (who are unaware of each other) have wildly different fates: one is married to an English slave trader and remains in her native land; the other is kidnapped, enslaved, and sold across the Atlantic. This novel follows their lives and those of their descendants.

While I could not quickly find a website for Gyasi, she does have a Facebook page and there is much about her online if you care to know more.

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