This week’s guest Yaa Gyasi is being called the next Toni Morrison. Her debut novel, Homegoing–praised by Ta-Nehisi Coates–is set to start conversations at home and abroad. The story spans three centuries and follows two branches of a family tree beginning with half-sisters Effia and Esi, born in different villages in 18th-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an English slave trader and she goes to live in the comfort of the Cape Coast Castle, which is also used to hold slaves before they are sent across the Atlantic. Her sister Esi is captured by her village’s rival tribe, sold to colonizers and ends up right below her sister, imprisoned in the castle’s dungeon. Essi is then sold into slavery in America. Homegoing takes us from Ghana to America, and back again, weaving stories about Effia and Esi’s descendants through the Civil War, the coal mines of Alabama and the jazz clubs of Harlem to the present day.
This is an important book and I hope the conversation is too. Be sure to read Megan O’Grady’s piece about Yaa, How Two Young Women Reimagined the American Novel, in this month’s Vogue.
Image photo credit: Thibault Montamat, Vogue, June 2016