Saturday, September 1, 2018

Another Note on Yaa Gyasi's "Homegoing"

I have been teaching Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing, as I noted on a previous blog post. Now that we have read the whole novel, I can say another word on it.

This is an ambitious novel, covering the African experience in Africa and America over several centuries. Starting from the country now known as Ghana we enter society founded on communal principles and but also tensions between ethnic groups. We see people being captured and enslaved for domestic servitude or sent away to Cape Coast Castle, to await the sea voyage to America.

The horrors of life in the Caste,and of the slave trade in general, are graphically represented. The struggles of black people in America and Africa are covered in this novel which ultimately is an epic story of the resilience of the human spirit. It is a story of greed and grief, but also of hope.

Although great numbers of black people perished in the course of centuries, the black man and woman survived and persisted, like the little stone that we see passed on from generation to generation in the novel. The novel uses flashback and other techniques and abounds with imagery, especially of fire and water. In the background there is an intriguing crazy woman.

Homegoing touches on cultural and other differences between Africans and African Americans but also brings up Pan Africanism. I suggest, as i did in a previous post, that  it be read alongside, or following, Ama Ata Aidoo's The Dilemma of a Ghost.

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