Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

Homegoing
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message 1: by ColumbusReads (last edited Aug 01, 2016 11:21AM) (new) - added it

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3860 comments Mod
It's August 1st and our book this month is the debut novel, Homegoing, by the celebrated 26-year old author, Yaa Gyasi. Has anyone started reading this yet? Anyone completed it and have some general thoughts on it?

Here's some reviews and interviews on the author and the book:

LA Times review:
http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketco...

WaPo review
https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

Politics and Prose (video):
https://youtu.be/RVch_Bs0JDg


message 2: by Myron (new)

Myron Brown | 81 comments Still waiting for the book to arrive from the library.


message 3: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 01, 2016 08:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rebecca | 386 comments I am excited as I like authors from Ghana and Nigeria backgrounds. We have read several that are graduates of the Iowa Writers Workshop, and I have enjoyed them. So far it has a nice pace and storyline. I have to get mine back by the 11th for someone who is waiting for it, so that is why I started early.


Missy J (missyj333) I'm going to join in for this one and am also very excited. Recently, I read Obioma's "The Fishermen" and Selasi's "Ghana Must Go." Have only heard good things about "Homegoing" so far!


ALove4Me | 4 comments I've been lurking for awhile, reading books and following discussion. I am very interested in reading Homegoing as EVERYONE gives it rave reviews, so I'm finally going to participate in a discussion. I will start reading this weekend.


Jane | 0 comments Great choice this month it is extremely good


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3860 comments Mod
The book has 300 pages and divided by 2 Parts. How about we start the discussion on the 5th and break it up into 3rds. Discussion schedule:

August 5th-13th ---Pages 1-87( up to James chapter)
August 14th-23rd ---Pages 88-198 (up to Willie chapter)
August 24th ---Page 199 entire book open



Beverly | 2884 comments Mod
I read this book a little while ago and really enjoyed it.
It is one of my top reads for the year!
It was a book that every time I put it down, I could not want to pick it back up.
I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do.

Looking for forward to hearing everyone's thoughts.


Janani (theshrinkette) Heya! I did finish reading this book already and it is definitely one of my favorite picks of 2016. Linking my review here, and happy to discuss it with people as they're reading it!

https://theshrinkette.com/2016/06/17/...


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3860 comments Mod
The beginning of the book to page 87 (James chapter) discussed to Aug 13th.


message 11: by Missy J (last edited Aug 05, 2016 02:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Missy J (missyj333) Hi! Started this today, am two chapters in and I can understand why people can't put this book down. This is one of those family sagas where you just want to find out what happens next.

In the first two chapters, I was in awe how Yaa Gyasi managed to weave the charcharters into each other's fates (eg. Fiifi, gov. James, chief Akebu). We can almost see different faces on every character.


message 12: by Kai (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kai (ky02121) | 3 comments The best book I've read so far this year.


Angie | 1 comments I love that she started this book with a genealogy. I referred to it at the beginning of every chapter.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3860 comments Mod
I cringe sometimes when I see a genealogy chart in front of the book. Not every author is able to include so many characters and generations of family members without you being confused and literally overwhelmed with storylines and such. However, a few have been able to do it so perfectly that you rarely if ever need to look at a chart. I thought Edward P. Jones did it expertly with The Known World. Interested to see how well it's done here.


Louise | 138 comments Homegoing is on sale at Kobo, today only, for $4.99

https://store.kobobooks.com/


Michelle | 73 comments Columbus wrote: "I cringe sometimes when I see a genealogy chart in front of the book. Not every author is able to include so many characters and generations of family members without you being confused and literal..."

I know what you mean Columbus. I felt that way when I read Wolf Hall. Gyasi does a great job with it though . I'm totally absorbed in the story. Although I like to refer back to the pedigree chart it's not out of confusion but rather to keep my perspective of where I'm at within the family saga.


Michelle | 73 comments I read somewhere that Homegoing is semi-autobiographical. Does anyone whether this is true and to what extent?


William (be2lieve) | 1302 comments Mod
Louise wrote: "Homegoing is on sale at Kobo, today only, for $4.99

https://store.kobobooks.com/"


I used your link and it was priced 13.99 for me. Although I would get to apply a $5.00 credit for signing up. Perhaps that's your price as a frequent buyer.

Seems folks are either savoring this title or reading very slowly. I was # 25 on the hold list at my library a month ago and only down to #13 now. I suppose I'll have to buy it if I want to join the discussion.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3860 comments Mod
Michelle wrote: "Columbus wrote: "I cringe sometimes when I see a genealogy chart in front of the book. Not every author is able to include so many characters and generations of family members without you being con..."

Oh, that's great to hear, Michelle.


Beverly | 2884 comments Mod
Michelle wrote: "I read somewhere that Homegoing is semi-autobiographical. Does anyone whether this is true and to what extent?"

Here is an interview with Yaa Gyasi on why she wrote Homegoing and some other related questions.

http://americamagazine.org/content/al...


Louise | 138 comments William wrote: "I used your link and it was priced 13.99 for me. Although I would get to apply a $5.00 credit for signing up. Perhaps that's your price as a frequent buyer..."

I'm sorry to hear that William. Perhaps the sale was only for Canadians? They have a different daily deal every day.


Michelle | 73 comments Beverly wrote: "Michelle wrote: "I read somewhere that Homegoing is semi-autobiographical. Does anyone whether this is true and to what extent?"

Here is an interview with Yaa Gyasi on why she wrot..."


Thank you Beverly. That was very enlightening.


ALove4Me | 4 comments Finished part one and I didn't want to stop! I am thoroughly enjoying the journey and just want to know what is going to happen next. I was also leery of the opening timeline, but then the story drew me right in within the first couple of pages and next thing I knew I was at page 86.

I also just enjoy the writing style, its quite descriptive without stopping to paint several paragraph long pictures through text. Gyasi gives just enough information to develop every character while weaving each individuals storyline together. I can't wait to continue.....


Michelle | 73 comments Themusicalme wrote: "Finished part one and I didn't want to stop! I am thoroughly enjoying the journey and just want to know what is going to happen next. I was also leery of the opening timeline, but then the story dr..."

I understand what you mean Themusicalme. I had planned to read along with the group discussion but I couldn't help myself. I had to finish the book. Lol


Missy J (missyj333) Michelle wrote: "Themusicalme wrote: "Finished part one and I didn't want to stop! I am thoroughly enjoying the journey and just want to know what is going to happen next. I was also leery of the opening timeline, ..."

The same happened to me!!! I finished this book during the weekend. Gyasi wrote an epic story! Can't wait when the discussion becomes open so that I can ask some questions.... Happy reading everybody!


message 26: by Myron (new)

Myron Brown | 81 comments I doubt I'm getting the book until the end of the month. Comparatively speaking the book was underordered compared to other similar titles.


message 27: by George (new)

George | 766 comments Started reading it this week and I'm almost 200 pages into it. Definitely one of the best choices for this year.


message 28: by Ardene (new)

Ardene (booksnpeaches) | 68 comments Enjoyed this read. Unfortunately, had to return it to the library, so my memory for details won't be good.


Beverly | 2884 comments Mod
Ann wrote: "I read it and enjoyed it, but I like Maryse Conde and Lalita Tademy's generational historical fiction better. I love the parallel journeys, which separates the book from the author's I mentioned, b..."

Yeah another Maryse Condé fan!
One of my all-time fav authors.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3860 comments Mod
Discuss through page 198 (Willie chapter).


Rebecca | 386 comments I know we are on to the next section but I cant help but comment on the first section.

I continue to be surprised by what I am learning from my reading. I didn't know that the whips were passed down from generation to generation. I have been looking for more information that talked about this practice.

Also the stacking of the slaves and the description had a profound impact on me with this book.

I have moved around a lot in my life so I feel like I could relate to Gyasi's feeling about displacement.


message 32: by ALove4Me (last edited Aug 16, 2016 05:49AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ALove4Me | 4 comments Wow! She killed her children!

What I love the most about this book is that each person adds so much to the overall storyline. Every single story wraps up just enough to feel complete yet adds to the journey. Also, Gyassi conveys how tired each person is without once stating that fact. I feel time passing, and yet the same problems pass through time from generation to generation. Gyassi effectively show how the effects of slavery continue to burden descendants of African tribes regardless of how much time passes. Loving this novel so far ....must keep reading.


Michael | 432 comments I’ve started reading along but I’ve had a busy month and I’m only at page 100 so far. This is clearly an important book; thanks for putting it on my radar!

Themusicalme wrote: “What I love the most about this book is that each person adds so much to the overall storyline. Every single story wraps up just enough to feel complete yet adds to the journey.”

I agree. I keep vacillating between, “wow, how can I keep track of so many stories” and “wow, the author is really conveying a sense of epic history here” and “I wish I could spend more time with each person”…


Michael | 432 comments Rebecca wrote: “I continue to be surprised by what I am learning from my reading.”

I am feeling the same way. I have been learning more about the Asante and Fante on Wiki, in case anyone is interested:

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashanti_Region
www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fante_people

And some things from my spotty school history are becoming more vivid with the storytelling. For example, I had a vague notion that different cultural groups in Africa were pitted against each other in the slave trade, but being right in the middle of Asante and Fante family stories makes it more personal, more real for me. This seems like an important topic, too, because of how the system of white supremacy encourages members of the Black community (in addition to members of other groups of color) to fight each other instead of the white power structure. It is clearly rooted deep in history.


message 35: by George (new)

George | 766 comments I particularly like the fact that the family story continues on in the US on several lines of people over several generations even as it progresses in Ghana.

Part of what's going on in the novel is the evolution of the British colonial system as it's clear initially the Brits were more interested in trading slaves and gold than in actually ruling the territory. I also found the "wench" system interesting with semi-legal marriages and semi-legitimate children from them. not the sort of thing that would have been tolerated much less encouraged in the 19th or 20th century British colony.
Haven't quite finished it yet, but I expect to today.


Bettina (bettina_w) | 3 comments This was a wonderful book. The author is an excellent writer. Due to all the buzz, I thought it may be a let down, but no, it surpassed my expectations and I can't wait to pass it on. This book is special and a must read.


Rebecca | 386 comments I did not see that coming at all at the end of the chapter. I just didn't want to believe she did that even at the end.

I could just feel the despair and sorrow in the Willie chapter. So far my favorite even thought it was so tragic.

I was surprised how smooth the transition was made by the families in the US. I also liked it George.

Michael. I remember feeling like that with the characters when I read Twelve Tribes of Hattie. Wait till you meet Willie. I think my heart is still with her. :(


Sarah Weathersby (saraphen) | 261 comments George wrote: "Part of what's going on in the novel is the evolution of the British colonial system as it's clear initially the Brits were more interested in trading slaves and gold than in actually ruling the territory.."

After gold was down-graded in Britain, it was more lucrative to trade in humans than in gold.


Sarah Weathersby (saraphen) | 261 comments Rebecca wrote: "Wait till you meet Willie. I think my heart is still with her."

Me too. I'm still grieving.


message 40: by George (new)

George | 766 comments Sarah wrote: "George wrote: "Part of what's going on in the novel is the evolution of the British colonial system as it's clear initially the Brits were more interested in trading slaves and gold than in actuall..."

I suppose the real question is why they maintained their presence after outlawing the slave trade.


message 41: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 22, 2016 08:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rebecca | 386 comments Well I suspect because they maintained such a dominate force and inflence for so long. I imagine it took some time before their force and economic and political influenced really started to wane.
I did find this:
A change in economic interests. After 1776, when America became independent, Britain's sugar colonies, such as Jamaica and Barbados, declined as America could trade directly with the French and Dutch in the West Indies. Furthermore, as the industrial revolution took hold in the 18th century, Britain no longer needed slave-based goods. The country was more able to prosper from new systems which required high efficiency, through free trade and free labour. Cotton, rather than sugar, became the main produce of the British economy and English towns, such as Manchester and Salford, became industrial centres of world importance


message 42: by George (new)

George | 766 comments Rebecca wrote: "Well I suspect because they maintained such a dominate force and inflence for so long. I imagine it took some time before their force and economic and political influenced really started to wane.
..."


Could be, although maybe it was initially more about keeping the port for naval operations. It's hard to imagine it was very attractive financially in the post slavery environment. In any case, I don't really know as I've seen nothing on it.


Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I'm still waiting for my copy on hold at the library. I might go ahead and purchase this one. Is it about half and half Africa and America?
( I can read books 75% in Africa for a challenge I'm doing that starts in September, so I'm just curious). Thanks!


Beverly | 2884 comments Mod
George wrote: "Sarah wrote: "George wrote: "Part of what's going on in the novel is the evolution of the British colonial system as it's clear initially the Brits were more interested in trading slaves and gold t..."

Though slave trading was "outlawed" - it took a while to wind down and so there was still slave trading. Also within Ghana there was still warring among the distinct groups so some groups allied with the British for protection and thus Britain got favorable trade agreements/revenues so it was still profitable plus it helped with Britain's claim to being a world power. Also the Industrial Revolution was beginning and needed raw materials that Ghana could supply. Then there was the production of coffee and cacao in Ghana which Britain could sell to others as the demand for these products increased.
Then there were the missionaries that were there to protect as the "Christianized" the area.

This is high level but there were economic and political reasons to stay in Ghana.


message 45: by George (new)

George | 766 comments Well, I cant' say I really know, but I don't think there were serious economic reasons to remain immediately after slavery was outlawed. It's hard to imagine what the Gold Coast produced that would be of serious commercial interest in the early 1800s and the population wasn't really big enough to need much in the way of British goods. It really wasn't an official colony at that point, more of a merchants' company operation. It didn't become an official colony until much later. Could be it was useful for naval operations off West Africa. Of course later on with all the European powers grabbing everything they could get their hands on it became a different matter altogether.

maybe they didn't really need a reason. they had it and they weren't giving it back, even after several wars with the Asante
.


Beverly | 2884 comments Mod
George wrote: "Well, I cant' say I really know, but I don't think there were serious economic reasons to remain immediately after slavery was outlawed. It's hard to imagine what the Gold Coast produced that would..."

Oh yes definitely for naval value and the holding of key ports.
And definitely did not want to leave to let one of their European rivals gain a foothold.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3860 comments Mod
The entire book is open for discussion. No spoilers!


Rebecca | 386 comments I finished last night. Looking forward to the thoughts of everyone. Especially the ending.


message 49: by Myron (new)

Myron Brown | 81 comments My copy of Homegoing has just arrived at the library after waiting for a month and a half. Oh well.


message 50: by ColumbusReads (last edited Aug 30, 2016 02:20PM) (new) - added it

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3860 comments Mod
Myron wrote: "My copy of Homegoing has just arrived at the library after waiting for a month and a half. Oh well."

Myron, I just got mine and just started reading it myself. So, feel free to add comments well into Sept and beyond if you like. Must say I just started this book and have to agree with everyone else. This book pulls you in immediately! Loving it!


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