Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

a note: I’m gonna try to write substatnively about this piece of art but it was incredible and my puny human emotions are inusfficient a a set of watercolors with which to paint it.

what i drank: I had a half-doxen pints of miller lite and three and a half glasses of white wine and half dozen shots of boodles gin (out of a Duke shotglass that I hate because fuck Dook, amirite?!?!?)

EDITORS’ NOTE: Hi, it’s Sam. The next morning. Last night he was the drunkest I’d seen him in a while. This review is NOT edited for spelling/grammar only to ensure the book and the author’s name are spelled correctly and capitalized. Ms. Gyasi deserves that.  And I’m dying reading this. 
WRITERS’S RESPONSE: Dammit, Sam, let me live.

spoiler free plot
a week after reading “Homegoing” it’s hard not to cry thinking about it. i didn’t cry reading it, though i put it down four separate times to walk away and.. i dunno put my life back together.

 Yaa Gyasi’s novel is beautiful. it is heartbreaking and beautiful and a fantastic accomplishment in poesy and story writing.

in the novel she traces an  18th centrury west african family’ split at the hands and “benefaction” of british slavers through history and across the atlantic. as two distinct familial lines emerge, society and happenstance come to bear on their luck and, again, fuck. 
this brilliant artist manages to remind to remind me of the struggles i encoutner today in America without even adressing them directly. by painting a viscerally accurate panorama of the children of the diaspora she draws me and my family. again, it was incredible

“Homegoing” stars dozends of  protagonists who each encounter a complex stet of interal and external conflicts. whether in a Village in Ghana or Harlem or Arkansas or Palo Alto, CA, the progeny of  Gyasi’s first chapters all evolve, though not over the page widths that novel readers traditionally expect. these men and women succeed and fail, are raped and conquer kingdoms, attend prestigious universites and mainline heroin instead of feeding themelves and their children.

as i read it, the real protagonist of this novel are the children of the forced diaspora. we hardly spendmore of a chapter with any one generation (let alone character!) and yet Gyasi writes well enough that i feel great grandparents’ wrath and blessing as if it were the childhood memory of the twenty-somethings whose vignettes end the novel. time manages to function as a vehicle and object of  the grand themes that weave this novel together. again, FUCK.

writing style
Gyasi is versatile at times i feel an almost hemingway-like syntax. this terse she can break hearts. she slips in history. she builds context and tension until both swell like infected limbs and when the flies land they quiver with breathless verve. as each family/generation’s story unfolds, she create an imperative tone that fills the senses. i had an interesting conversation about the plot arc ofthis novel. i think it ascends continuously to the end of the novel, instead of posessign the traditional rising action-climax-falling action setup, but please disagree with me about this.

this book reminds me of my family and what millions of families like mine have gone through. that sentence reads as sloppy or lazy at first, but do not mistake me; it does not remind me of individuals; rather, it recalls in me a generational memory. Gyasi’s prose evokes anger in me, but not my own. it engenders a watchful and sullen observation ofthose whose lineage managed to avoid so many of these lashes and billy-clubbings. idk. the hour it took me to trapse through this reveiw was a teary one. that emotion was largely sadness, though anger plated a role, and somewhere, buried like a fleck of gold in a jet black stone was hope, was a desparate sense that home is there to be found if we can fight our fear of drowning.

rating: 5/5 plugs of 96% pure corn liquor for the 5/5 hours spent  staring at the drywall, comparing this novel’s life to the history of your actual blood family who was enslaved in the south and succeeded and failed at navigating a series of systems designed to profit off its labor, struggle, its despair and death.

 a red with body. or a wit insofar as that’s a good summer beer and as a novel of various passions and compasions, “Homegoing” is a good summer novel.

fuck. brb. weepy again.

4 thoughts on “Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

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