Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

Book: Homegoing

Author: Yaa Gyasi

Pages: 315

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Read On: Hardback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader's wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel - the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.
Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portraits, Homegoing is a searing and profound debut from a masterly new writer.

General Thoughts: This book was everywhere and everyone was reading it and talking about it and raving about it. I wanted to get my hands on it and give it a read as soon as I could manage. Even though all the hype and all of the good word of mouth reviews scared me a bit. What if it doesn't live up to all the hype that surrounds it? What if I don't like it?! Gah! Bookworm problems! I finally got this book in April but since I was reading only Bengali books then, I had to wait a whole month to dive into this book!
And it was well worth the wait, the high praise and all of the hype!

Things I Loved: 

1. The writing was wonderful. It held your attention and your heart and never let it go. The pace and the story telling style were all stellar. For a debut novel this one was fantastic, I can't wait to read more from the author.

2. I love reading books from Africa. And countries like Botswana and Nigeria are places I love visiting via my books. This book is set partly in Ghana and partly in the USA. I had a feeling I would love it. It might sound silly but there are some parts of the world that I always enjoy reading from and about. Africa is one such place.

3. This book could almost be called a book of short stories, each individual story holds quite well on it's own. It is a connected narrative for sure but each individual chapter holds merit even when held separately from the rest of the larger story. Also each chapter is a wonderful portrait of the character we are spending time with.

4. I loved both sections of the book. Both the parts of the story- Ghana and America held my interest and I didn't prefer one over the other, which sometimes happens in books like these. The author managed to make each section just as good as the other. I also enjoyed each and every time period this book covers.

5. Slavery...and repercussions of the this evil practice needs to talked about and examined. The far reaching consequences and effects of slavery are brilliantly portrayed in this book. Just because it has seemingly stopped in recent history doesn't mean that the scars it inflicted have been magically erased.

6. The scope and the sheer reach of this book is pretty darn fantastic. It spans centuries and continents and touches numerous lives. The author does justice to each time era and each character in this book.

7. While the book talks of the horrors of slavery and the cruel and despicable acts committed by white people, I also liked that the role played the locals in slavery was also talked about. I also liked how the shame felt by the descendants  of local slave hunters was portrayed so well. In every case of colonisation and slavery , the local people, especially the ones in power often play a crucial role and betray their own. Very often history books and books in general ignore this aspect of history. I really appreciated reading about this.

8. The depictions of life in America for the slaves were some of the hardest bits to read but I am sure the reality of it must have been a thousand times harder.

9. This book was unputdownable. I never wanted to stop reading it. So if you are looking for an immersive read that you want to breeze through, this is the book for you.

10. I love history in general and any book that shows me a part of history I might not know a lot about always interests me. I sadly know only the bare minimum about African history, so this book was a treat in more ways than one.

Rating: 5/5

2017's first 5 star read for me.
I LOVED this book and I cannot recommend it enough. It is golden, searing and heart-breaking and important and you simply have to give it a read.

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