Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


Homegoing 
by Yaa Gyasi
Knopf, 2016
305 pages
source: purchased


My literary year began on a high note when I selected Homegoing as my First Book of 2017. The novel appeared on year-end 'best of' lists from the New York Times to trusted blogging friends and was the 2016 release I most regret not reading before the year ended.

Set in 18th-century Africa, the novel opens with the story of two half-sisters separated by circumstances beyond control. One is sold into slavery, while the other is married off to a British slave dealer. As Homegoing unfolds, the chapters move forward generation by generation to the present day, with each focusing on one descendant. A family tree at the beginning proved extremely helpful!

As you would expect, the contrast between the two branches of the family is dramatic.

Homegoing is a very moving novel... Gyasi made me FEEL. I was fully invested in nearly all of her characters - quite a feat considering the sheer number of them. In fact, most are deserving of their own novel.

My sole complaint is that when each chapter ended and the narrative moved on to the next generation, I was left wanting more. 

Yaa Gyasi is a debut author to watch. She will be awarded the John Leonard Prize, recognizing an outstanding first book in any genre, at the National Book Critics Circle Awards in March. I can't wait to see what she writes next.

My rating:

44 comments:

  1. I had heard an interview with the author on NPR, but you've really made me want to read this.

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    1. Audrey - I haven't heard any interviews with the author and am curious... will check out the NPR piece.

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  2. It's a bittersweet feeling when you're left wanting more! I purchased this a few weeks ago when it was on daily deal and look forward to getting to it. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

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    1. Trish - It was a bittersweet feeling, but upon further reflection it feels just about right.

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  3. I had this on my tbr list and then I read a very negative review of it, so I took it off. After reading your review I'm thinking about adding it again. I might end up loving it as much as you did, if not, there's no law that says I have to finish it.

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    1. Vicki - Sounds like borrowing the book from the library is the way to go for you. Nothing to lose that way :)

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  4. Ahh! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one, JoAnn! Initially, I was hesitant to pick it up; I was afraid that the novel would not live up to its description and that I'd feel like I'd wasted my time. I'm so, SO glad that I gave it a chance; you've summed it up - she made me FEEL it all. What a great description!

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    1. Tara - There were one or two characters/chapters that were a little weaker, but overall it was wonderful. All those FEELS - trying to think of the last novels I read that had them all...

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  5. What a great way to start the reading year - with such a good book! I can't wait to read this one!

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    1. Iliana - This was a great book to start the year. I'm hoping the rest of 2017 is just as good!!

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  6. I've steered clear of this one simply because of the cover. It does absolutely nothing for me! I know it's been on all kinds of lists. I just can't move past the cover. I'd have to read it on my Kindle.

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    1. Ti - That cover doesn't do much for me, either. The contents is another story :)

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  7. I love your review. Adding this novel to my list!

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  8. Oh my, but that does sound good. I wonder if I can talk my book club into reading it.

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    1. Kathy - I'm going to recommend this to my book club when it comes out in paperback.

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  9. Like Ti, I'm not all that impressed with the cover art and haven't really given the book any thought, but it is getting great reviews, so I may have to give it a try. I'm assuming you read the whole thing and didn't listen to any of it on audio?

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    1. Les - Yes, I read the whole thing in print, but the audio got great reviews, too. That cover doesn't do much for me either... doubt I would have picked it up without blogger recommendations.

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  10. I don't think I realized what Homecoming was about despite seeing it on the lists you mention. I'm very intrigued to hear that it's generational and the author managed to keep a massive number of characters distinct. I'm adding this to my TBR.

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    1. Katherine - I thought the author chose a particularly effective structure for this story!

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  11. I have this on my wish list at the library. I read a negative review of it too but have also read a couple of good ones. Sounds like a good book club read and I don't care for the cover either. Funny how a cover can influence one. Trav. Penguin

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    1. Pam - I do think this would make a good book club selection. The cover doesn't do much for me either...

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  12. I am on the long library list for this - now I'm wishing I could leapfrog it!

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    1. Lisa - I hope the wait isn't quite as long as you're anticipating.

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  13. Homegoing is high on my TBR list and when I hear that you were "fully invested in nearly all the characters" it makes me want to read it even more. I may try the audio so I can get to it a little sooner!

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    1. Susie - The audio is receiving very high ratings on audible!

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  14. I really want to read this book. I’m on a waiting list for it, but the list is massive. I swear I’ll read it someday. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. AJ - Thanks. Hope your wait isn't too long... hard to figure how those hold lists work sometime.

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  15. I'm sure curious how far this will go in the Tournament of Books! I thought it was great.

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    1. Care - I hope it does well in the ToB, and am impressed with you reading so many on the list!!

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  16. Replies
    1. Patty - It's a little different from my usual selections, but very good. Hope you like it, too!

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  17. I'm glad this was a positive reading experience. It is on my shortlist as I am reading through BookBrowses The Best of 2016, but I have been cautiously optimistic about books like this lately. With so many books being flooded through the publishers that are "diverse", I find that the majority are cheapened. I am glad to see that this appears to be as good as it sounded to me, and I especially love that it made you feel something. That is what I want from a book like this.

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    1. Toady - I know you haven't been thrilled with some recent "it" books, but think this one has a lot going for it. The structure was especially effective for this type of story and the author's ability to evoke so many emotions was a huge plus for me. Hope it works for you, too.

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  18. I have it sitting on my TBR pile and I can't wait to read it!! You make it sound so good :)

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    1. Nadia - I enjoyed it more than expected. Hope you have a similar experience!

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  19. Yes, this one too is a book I want to read this year. I even purchased it last year hoping to finally get to it. :-)

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    1. Athira - You're in for a treat when you get to it!

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  20. I'm doing the TOB this year for the first time so I may read this one if it does well. I had it from my library but returned it unread, not sure why. I didn't know what it was about, I guess. You have me thinking I should read it. Sounds good.

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    1. James - I borrowed this from the library twice and returned it unread. Finally decided to buy a copy and I'm glad I did. Good luck with the TOB reading... one of these years I'll give it a try!

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  21. YEP, I need to hurry up and read this. Maybe my next audio!

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    1. Andi - The audio version has very high ratings, too!

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  22. Thanks for the review on this one. I haven't read it yet but hope to. I worry a bit about the sheer number of characters ... hmm

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    1. Susan - Each chapter focused on one character of one generation and was easy to follow , but I referred back to the family tree countless times to double check the lineage. Would have missed that if I'd listened...

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