Homegoing is a lush, far-reaching novel that tells the story of a fractured family tree across two continents and seven generations: a beautiful girl, born on the Gold Coast (modern day Ghana) on the night of a devastating fire, grows up to be the ‘wench’- or unofficial wife- of a British officer whose job it is to procure slaves for the late 18th century slave trade. At the same time as she lives a life of relative luxury in a fortress called ‘The Castle‘, her unknown half-sister is suffering horrifically in the dungeons below, waiting for the day she will be shipped halfway across the world to work on American plantations. Each of the following chapters tells the story of the descendants of these two women: the loves, lives and choices each generation makes. Although this is a novel and each story is presented as a chapter, each felt more like a complete short story in its own right.
This is a novel that literally took my breath away at points; I found myself rushing home from work to snatch five minutes to read it whilst the house was quiet. I wanted to give this story my full attention. The struggle for survival, the theme of resilience and resistance runs deeply throughout the novel. The characters survive a multitude of challenges: slavery, racism, drug abuse, domestic violence, mental illness. But there is also hope in this novel- a young girl learns where she comes from, thanks to her grandmother; a young man convicted thanks to racism goes on to make a life for himself and his family. Like life, this novel is a rollercoaster and I loved every second of it.
The writing is wonderful- poetic and evocative. The family legacy runs deep within the narrative- it is not always obvious, but it’s there. This is a rich novel that teaches as much as it engrosses. It has the potential to become very important indeed.