Intro for June 7, 2016
I’ve been waiting for today for many weeks. There’s a new book that came out today: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, another First Book Bitch. If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you know a First Book Bitch is what I call a writer who doesn’t need two or three to find her groove. She totally kills it her first time out. Like Zadie Smith and Diana Evans and Nigel Shriver before her, Yaa Gyasi has delivered what will probably be my favourite book of 2016. This is an extraordinary first effort, so good that there was a bid-off over it last year and the manuscript – remember, it was her FIRST – was rumoured to sell for at least a million dollars. Every f-cking word is worth it.
The story is about two branches of a family tree beginning in Ghana during the slave trade. Even though Yaa takes us over continents and across oceans, and 300 years in between, every ancestor, every individual piece of the linked heritage, every stage feels close. She writes so vividly that you carry every character along with you as you meet the next – their history, their tragedy, their hope, all of it coursing through, multiplied by generation. Homegoing is a beautiful achievement. But my endorsement is nothing compared to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s:
“Gyasi’s characters are so fully realized, so elegantly carved—very often I found myself longing to hear more. Craft is essential given the task Gyasi sets for herself—drawing not just a lineage of two sisters, but two related peoples. Gyasi is deeply concerned with the sin of selling humans on Africans, not Europeans. But she does not scold. She does not excuse. And she does not romanticize. The black Americans she follows are not overly virtuous victims. Sin comes in all forms, from selling people to abandoning children. I think I needed to read a book like this to remember what is possible. I think I needed to remember what happens when you pair a gifted literary mind to an epic task.Homegoing is an inspiration.”
Please don’t be afraid of Homegoing because it’s hard. It’s not hard. It’s essential. It’s the work of a major new voice in women’s literature. Let me know what you think.
Yours in gossip,
PS. CFDAs coverage is planned for today. Please also check the LifeStyle page for fashion posts from the event.