Instaread Summary of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Three out of five stars
The institution of the slave trade from Africa to the Americas is both simple and extremely complex. It is simple because it was based solely on economics. As the Europeans colonized North America, there was a chronic labor shortage and the cheapest way to do this was to import enslaved Africans. In Africa, a tribe could engage in a raid on another tribe and capture people to be sold to the British as slaves. This was very profitable for the tribe that engaged in the raid, but it destroyed the social structure.
Slavery and its aftermath is also very complex because it pitted African tribe against tribe, with the British colonial administration controlling it. Free black persons lived within the structure of the slave trade, no doubt witnessing the plight of people in chains being loaded on ships for transport. The aftermath of slavery led to explicit and implicit segregation that exists a century and a half after slavery was violently ended.
This is a work of fiction and very complex. After reading the section summarizing the book I had the feeling that a fast talking auctioneer had delivered the explanation. A lot is packed into the summary, if you read it at your normal reading pace you likely will emerge uncertain as to the characters, but not about the point of the book. It is an attempt to encapsulate most aspects of the slave trade into one book of fiction, a goal almost impossible to achieve.
There are also many characters in the novel, as it spans many generations. The most obvious conclusion from reading the summary is that the author of the novel simply tries to do too much in one book.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.