The powerful debut novel Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi will be featured on the Radio 2 Book Club on Monday 23 January.
The book was selected with the help of a panel made up of Reading Agency and library staff from across the UK.
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.
Selection panel review
Our library reading panel loved Homegoing – here are some of their comments:
“I loved this book, and felt drawn in from the start. Each story has so much to offer, and at times I wished we could stay with characters longer, but was soon caught up in the next chapter. Powerful, moving and important.”
“I felt like I was learning about different cultures from this book and could relate to the fact that where you are from and your ancestry can influence your behaviour and attitudes further down the line. Very thought provoking and a good insight into culture and how people have been treated.”
“I really loved this book and I think it has plenty to offer. It’s incredibly ambitious, taking in six generations over two continents and it’s very well researched. I was worried when I first started it that it would try to do too much and fail to create engaging characters. However, overall the characters are convincing and their stories are moving, despite only having a chapter each. It’s very powerful yet accessible and I can see it being very successful.”
About the author
Yaa Gyasi was born in Mampong, Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short stories have appeared in African American Review, Guernica, and Callaloo. Homegoing is her first novel.
A word from Yaa
“My love for libraries began very early. In middle school I embarked on a career as a library aide for Mountain Gap Middle School. I took my duties quite seriously—shelving and reorganizing books, checking books out to my fellow middle schoolers, and, perhaps most importantly, making unsolicited recommendations to anyone who walked through our doors. I read so much that my dear librarian, Mrs. Rutledge, let me get away with just about anything in that library, including a daily soda from the fridge in the back, but all I truly wanted was to read everything I could get my hands on.
Libraries deeply informed my life, especially in my family’s early days in America when money was tighter than tight and buying a book was as impossible as buying a car. Libraries are still a sacred space for me, and librarians angels. I cherish every recommendation that I was ever given, and I cannot express fully enough how honoured I am to have been chosen for the Radio 2 Book Club!”
Tune in to Simon Mayo’s Drivetime show on Monday 23 January to hear a live interview with Yaa talking about her book.
Have you read Homegoing? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #homegoing, leave your reviews for other groups, or add the book to your group’s reading list.