Homegoing is Yaa Gyasi's debut novel. Just before it was released, the Time magazine wrote an article about the author's life and inspiration for the book. She has also been interviewed by various organizations about slavery, colonialism, and how institutional racism still affects us today.
- "Then... came a faint crying sound. So faint, Effia thought she was imagining it until she lowered herself down, rested her ear against the grate. 'James, are there people down there?' she asked. ... 'Yes,' he said evenly. ... Effia pulled away from him... 'But how can you keep them down there crying, enh?' she said. 'You white people. My father warned me about your ways. Take me home. Take me home right now!'" This quote is important because Effia realized what was happening with the prisoners underground, although she does not verbalize it.
- "And so Ness worked in the field. It was not new to her. In Hell, she'd worked the land too. In Hell, the sun scorched cotton so hot it almost burned the palms of your hands to touch it. Holding those small white puffs almost felt like holding fire, but God forbid you let one drop... Hell was where she had learned to be a good field hand, and the skill had carried her all the way to Tuscumbia." This is important because slavery was brutal and harsh.
- "Jail gave Sonny time to read. He used the hours before his mother bailed him out to thumb through The Souls of Black Folk. He'd read it four times already, and he still wasn't tired of it. It reaffirmed him the purpose of his being there, on an iron bench, in an iron cell. Every time he felt the futility of his work for the NAACP, he'd finger the well-worn pages of that book, and it would strengthen his resolve." This is important because Sonny was imprisoned for speaking up against racism and protesting.
Effia and Esi are half-sisters, and they were born into different villages in 1700s Ghana. Effia was married off to a white man by her family, and she lived in luxury at the Cape Coast Castle. Meanwhile, Esi was imprisoned underneath the Castle and shipped off to America a slave. The story traces these sisters' family lines from the slave trade to modern times. Towards the end of the book, Marcus (descendant of Esi) and Marjorie (descendant of Effia) travel to Ghana, which is where both of their families' roots lie. Through this trip, Effia and Esi are reunited, although the sisters have long since died.
- The black stones- Effia and Esi were given these stones at the beginning of the story, and they are passed down to their descendants. As the story goes on, the stones are symbolic of the burden of colonialism, slavery, and racism throughout history.
- The chapters- Each chapter is dedicated to a different descendant, and the paragraphs within them are like vignettes of their lives.
- The slave trade- Europeans and African leaders participated in the slave trade. Local rulers would capture Africans and then imprison them. Then, the captured Africans would be shipped off to the Americas for gold and various goods.
- Slavery- Africans who were sent to America were forced to work on plantations. They endured terrible working conditions and were treated like property.
- The Civil Rights movement- African Americans protested the systematic racism that was in America. However, they were beaten up by police officers and sent to jail for speaking up.
I consider Homegoing a masterpiece. The way Yaa Gyasi incorporated history and fiction impressed me, and I felt like I was on the edge of my seat while I was reading it. I also enjoyed how there were different point of views for every chapter, and they enriched the plot for me. I highly recommend reading this book.