Yaa Gyasi

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.

Yaa Gyasi’s sweeping novel Homegoing begins with the divergent fates of two half-sisters in 18th Century Ghana, and weaves in the stories of their descendants across eight generations and three hundred years of history. In this episode of the podcast, the author talks with Miwa Messer about how a visit to a slave-trading castle on the West African coast inspired her ambitious and critically acclaimed debut.

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Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.

Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

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