How Goes It, Bookworms?
I’m doing well, you know. Reading and thinking and whatnot. I’ve also been bridesmaiding. Since the bride in question lives a couple of hours from me, I’ve had lots of time to check out audiobooks and podcasts whilst road tripping to various pre-wedding events. Thank heaven for that because holy heck, I just finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and frankly, I’m surprised my head did not explode from the awesomeness.
Homegoing centers on two branches of the same family beginning in 18th Century Ghana. Two half sisters born in different villages face shockingly different fates. One sister marries a British officer and lives a fairly luxurious life in Cape Coast Castle. The other sister is captured by a neighboring tribe and kept in the dungeon of the very same castle until she is transported and sold into slavery. (They’re unaware of the other’s existences, of course.) What follows is a story following each branch of the family generation by generation, one in the US and one in Ghana.
Y’all, this book is POWERFUL. It covers all sorts of gritty bits of history, both in the US and in Africa, that have been swept under the proverbial rug. I was at least semi-familiar with most of the things in this book, but knowing a thing is different from FEELING a thing… Like, in college I took a class on the history of criminal justice in the US, so we read non fiction on the subject of chain gangs and the hideous post slavery incarceration practices in the American South. I’m not sure if it’s just that it was required reading or that I’m typically a thousand times more engaged by fiction, but this book hit me like my school books never did. I think the generation by generation approach Gyasi took was freaking brilliant, because it smacks you upside the head with a dose of THIS WAS NOT THAT LONG AGO. Because it wasn’t. Slavery was not THAT long ago. Chain gangs were not THAT long ago. Segregation was not THAT long ago. There is still so much work to be done.
I highly recommend this book to every human on planet earth, obviously, but if you’re not the fence about your medium, the audio book is PHENOMENAL. The narrator Dominic Hoffman is sooooooooo good at setting the scenes with his use of accents and inflection. I know that audio book narration is a completely different art form than acting in a movie, but when you can’t rely on an anguished twisted facial expression to get your point across and manage to portray that simply with your vocal cords? I’m in awe. If you are interested in additional background information on the book, I must also recommend the Beaks and Geeks podcast where Gyasi was interviewed. I am kicking myself SO HARD right now for deciding not to wait in the long signing line at BEA for this book. Although, maybe it’s for the best. I probably would just have embarrassed myself, as per usual.
Talk to me Bookworms! Have you read Homegoing? Were you similarly gobsmacked?
*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*