A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
                              NATIONAL BESTSELLER

" Homegoing  is an inspiration." --Ta-Nehisi Coates 

A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.
Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle's dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast's booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia's descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi's magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781101947135
Branch Call Number: GYASI Y
Characteristics: 305 pages : genealogical table ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

#12 Read a historical novel by an author of color.

LPL_KateG May 05, 2016

Pre-release review - THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD. Gorgeous prose, great historical information in both Ghana and America from 1700s-2000. I was sad to finish this wonderful debut novel. Get on the holds list for this one!

LPL_MeredithW Jul 16, 2016

This beautifully written debut novel spans centuries and continents, following the descendants of two half-sisters born in eighteenth-century Ghana. In alternating chapters, readers learn about the families of Effia, married off to an English slavetrader, and Esi, sold into slavery herself. Poi... Read More »

...then try Yaa Gyasi's breathtaking debut novel, which uses alternating chapters to tell the story of the two branches of a Ghanian family from the mid-18th century to modern day.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 24, 2019

Recommended by Pat and read by my book club early on

Feb 05, 2019

Not finished yet, but I don't recommend the audiobook, keeping EFF-y and ESS-y straight is tough. And it is read so slow! How does it take 12 hours to read a 300 page book? I've already got it going at 1.5 speed and it's taking forever but there is so much information going on.

Jan 22, 2019

The author is new, judging from details included in the Acknowledgements, and so I consider this work a notable and promising effort. While the book cover suggests an African theme, the story is both African and African American. It traces a set of related individuals over several generations, from before the rise of the slave trade in western Africa to Jim Crow America. Given the trans-generational framework, the reader is challenged to remember the characters from the previous periods; I had a difficult time making the connections. I did find the American scenarios most compelling and best fleshed out. I consider the effort praiseworthy although I caution the reader about fellow-author testimonies as I find them misleading at times, and this is one of them.

Dec 11, 2018

This is a beautifully written book. Yaa Gyasi is an amazing storyteller and I can't wait to discuss this with my bookgroup.

Oct 16, 2018

An easy read to learn about history, plain, poetic, predictable.

Genealogy_Lynn Aug 23, 2018

The chapters in this novel are linked stories following two half-sisters' descendants. Everyone’s lives are touched in some way by the slave trade. The family tree at the front of the book helps to keep the descendants and people clear in one’s mind. It’s a complicated book which deals with a serious subject. I will remember some of the events in this book for a long time to come.

Jul 21, 2018

Yaa Gyasi's novel, Homegoing is the best piece of fiction that I've read all year. It moved me the same way that Lawrence Hill's novel, The Book Of Negroes did when I read it a few years ago. I can't find the right words to express how impactful and vital these works of fiction are to the African Diaspora. Homegoing deserves a standing ovation!

I would love to see this novel eventually become a TV series on Netflix. Each episode could be based on a character in the book. With the right director, writers, and actors it would be an amazing visual project!

Jun 23, 2018

My review looks like 4 1/2 stars, but its supposed to be 5. This book is perfect. I listened to the audiobook version of this. The narrator is one of the best I’ve ever heard— he captures all the different accents, moods, etc. And the stories are brilliant. So much history that never gets talked about in our country! A really beautiful depiction following a lineage across time. I can’t recommend this enough. It should be required reading in all the high schools.

SPPL_Kristen Mar 22, 2018

My only complaint is that I didn't get to spend even more time with these characters

Mar 17, 2018

So grateful for this book! The art with which Gyasi unfolds the stories of two sisters separated and formed by the slave trade, and of their descendants, is such that the reader is focused entirely on the very human subjects of her art. If I were a high school teacher in the US, I would want this to be required reading for every student. 'Black history' is EVERYONE'S history. Until we learn these lessons, we will never be whole as a nation.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Dec 27, 2018

You can learn anything when you have to learn it. You could learn to fly if it meant you would live another day.

Oct 06, 2017

You are not your mother’s first daughter. There was one before you. And in my village we have a saying about separated sisters. They are like a woman and her reflection, doomed to stay on opposite sides of the pond.

Jan 10, 2017

“History is Storytelling… This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others. Those who were there in the olden days, they told stories to the children so that the children would know, so that the children could tell stories to their children. And so on, and so on. But now we come upon the problem of conflicting stories… Whose story do we believe? We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.” - pages 225 & 226

Jan 10, 2017

"Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves." - page 38

Jun 02, 2016

"'Shorter hours, better ventilation, those are things that you should be fighting for.'
'More money’s what we should be fighting for.'
'Money’s nice, don’t get me wrong. But mining can be a whole lot safer than what it is. Lives are worth fighting for too.'"

"'When a white man ever listened to a black man?'"


Add a Summary
Oct 06, 2017

Effia and Esi are half-sisters who have never met. First divided by their mother’s secrets, they will soon be divided by an ocean when Esi is sold into slavery and shipped across the Atlantic. Effia remains in Ghana, sold in marriage by her step-mother to the British governor of the Cape Coast Castle, where slaves are held in cramped dungeons before being loaded onto ships bound for America. In present day America, Marjorie wrestles with her identity as a Ghanaian immigrant to the United States, while Marcus struggles to complete his PhD knowing that many young black men of his generation are dead or in jail, and that only chance has kept him from the same fate. In a sweeping family saga, Yaa Gyasi follows the sisters’ bloodlines over hundreds of years, one child from each generation, tracing the impact of colonialism and slavery across the centuries, between Ghana and America.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at LPL

To Top