With her first novel, Yaa Gyasi crafts a captivating and potent narrative. Homegoing alternates between the parallel lineages of Ghanaian half-sisters Effia and Esi. Born in an 18th-century Fante village, Effia never knows her mother, Maame, a slave to the girl's father who flees to the nearby Asante village, where she later gives birth to Esi. As the girls age, Effia is given in marriage to a British slave trader, "all the better for [the village's] business with them." Meanwhile, Esi, captured and raped by slavers, bears a family destined for continued abuse--bought, sold and shipped to the New World. Demonstrating a firm grasp on several hundred years of Ghanaian and American history and brutal details of the African slave trade, Gyasi portrays the effect of personal and political decisions unto the seventh generation.

Years pass but family ties bind the sisters' offspring. Their hopes, regrets and secrets alike are handed down like the twin glimmering black-gold stones that Maame bestowed upon both girls. Each of Gyasi's 14 main characters faces distinct quandaries of submission and resistance to social systems of oppression. Their narratives are rich with poignant details about the lingering colonial influence of Christian missionaries in Ghana or the infuriating machinations of Jim Crow laws in the U.S.

Rarely does a grand, sweeping epic plumb interior lives so thoroughly. Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing is a marvel. It reminds readers that, every step of the way, the African diaspora has been shaped by individuals at their best and at their worst, vulnerable human beings craving the safety of a place to call home. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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