Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publisher: Alfred. A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Limited.
Genre: Literary Fiction
“We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must always ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there, you begin to get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.” The room was still.
Yaa Gyasi is a writer born in Ghana but moved to Alabama, USA as an infant. She went to Stanford University for her B.A and got an MFA from the Iowa’s writers workshop.
This has to be one of the best African books I have ever read and this is me saying something. Her story follows two half-sisters Effia and Ese as fate takes them on different paths only to unite them together again in form of their descendants Marcus and Marjorie. It has everything I want in a book, love, drama, hate, betrayal and history of a people told using a family tree (something like Roots). We feel the anguish of Ese as she is taken as a slave and the happy life Effia lived even though she believed she was born form evil. The story reverbates through time, space and two continents making the reader an active player in this heart wrenching plot.
The narrative is simply superb. One of the best I’ve seen especially considering the fact that this is her first book and it is a clearly cliche narrative. The language is simple, she made us feel the Ashanti breeze and experience the deep coal mines of Birmingham. I was Effia, Ese, Quey, Jo, Abena, H, Akuo, Willie, Yaw, Sonny, Marjorie and Marcus all in two days. There must have been alot of research that went into this book because she takes her time in telling each person’s story such that you don’t know it all, but you know enough to understand.
I’m tired of writers always writing about how they are bookworms. It was all going great till the end of the book where Marjorie spoils the show by being Yaa Gyasi in a book. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that she has her own writing style and there may be some bullshit about how a personal touch makes a difference in a book but can African female writers stop making their characters about them and just tell a beautiful story?
My favorite character is Jo. I enjoyed reading his part more than all others because of how he describes his wife’s butt (Sue me why don’t you😛). I fell in love with his family and also bore his pain when Anna was taken from him, it was an unfortunate ending to such a beautiful beginning. Who’s your favorite character?
As usual, the writer sparks an awareness about African traditional religion and the white man’s God. If you are religious, you may not find the book so alluring. Don’t blame me, I don’t know what writers have against God. 😯
“The white man’s god is just like the white man. He thinks he is the only god, just like the white man thinks he is the only man. But the only reason he is god instead of Nyame or Chukwu or whoever is because we let him be. We do not fight him. We do not even question him. The white man told us he was the way, and we said yes, but when has the white man ever told us something was good for us and that thing was really good? They say you are an African witch, and so what? So what? Who told them what a witch was?”_Ma Aku
This part got me thinking really deep but I’m still Christian. It’s just so much wisdom from one person’s perspective.
Let’s give this book a 4.99 out of 5 shall we?