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Surveying the legacy of slavery and colonization in Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel Homegoing is searing, brutal, beautiful and often profound.

It begins on Africa’s Gold Coast in the 18th century. Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born in different villages, into different tribes, the Fante and Asanti. Effia leaves her village to become the illegitimate wife of a British soldier who is trafficking humans in the slave trade. Esi is captured during a raid, enslaved and sent to the American South. The book follows the descendants of these two sisters through eight generations — one family remaining in Africa and the other in the United States. Following these characters, we see the long legacy of slavery and colonization through the eyes of the people who lived it.

The novel won many awards after its publication, including the National Book Award in 2017, and Yaa Gyasi is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Host Charity Nebbe discusses the novel with two expert readers.


Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio