Homegoing is the literary cousin of ABC’s classic miniseries Roots; a story that follows multiple generations of slaves taken from Africa and forced into servitude in the United States. The book was released in June and has since become summer’s runaway critical hit.
It would be impossible to write a more insightful review than those usually done by national publications, and I urge you to read those fascinating pieces on this book. Literary critics have tried to outdo themselves in heaping praise on the novel in an embarrassing circus of one-upmanship, but the praise is nevertheless deserved.
This is the debut novel of stunningly young 26-year-old writer Yaa Gyasi; she has used this book to cement herself as perhaps the definitive up-and coming literary talent this year. The pictures of Africa and its inhabitants Gyasi paints rank among the most unique you will encounter this year; Gyasi has delivered the best literary work of 2016 thus far.
Spanning six generations and hundreds of years is a monumental task that Gyasi handles with grace, and never does the book feel too long or too abbreviated. Characters last for just one chapter before the novel skips forward a generation and a new set is introduced. There is little time to linger, and it helps the narrative keep a brisk pace.
Homegoing is not a nail-biting page turner, nor is it a thrilling ride from start to end. It is dense and dry; and it will not appeal to the average reader. But for the few who choose to take the time to study it, the book gives back rewards in spades. It is no stretch of the imagination to imagine this book being taught in schools around the country in 25 or 50 years. Homegoing is one hell of an achievement.