Alabama Author Selected for Common Read Program
Posted on August 9, 2017 by Alice Jackson
The highly acclaimed and best-selling historical fiction novel “Homegoing,” written by Alabama author Yaa Gyasi, will be the University of South Alabama’s Common Read/Common World book selection for 2017-2018.
The voluntary program for all University students, especially freshmen, aims to improve understanding of differences and commonalities across the world while engaging in academic discourse and critical thinking. Throughout the year, students and faculty will interact with the book in a variety of academic settings.
The 28-year-old Gyasi, a native of Ghana, grew up in Huntsville. Her writing debut captured international attention when publisher Alfred A. Knopf paid $1 million for the manuscript. The New York Times named “Homegoing” as one of the 100 notable books of 2016. The National Book Foundation named Gyasi as one of the top five authors under age 35 for 2016.
“Homegoing” tells the story of two half-sisters separated by forces beyond their control, as one is sold into slavery and the other is married to a British slave trader. “Homegoing” traces the generations of family who follow as their destinies lead them through two continents and across 300 years of history with the legacy of slavery fully revealed in light of the present day.
Gyasi has said the idea for “Homegoing” began when she returned to Ghana during her sophomore year at Stanford University. During a visit to Cape Coast Castle, a former “slave castle” built by European traders on Africa’s Gold Coast, Gyasi was struck by the fact that some of the local women had married British soldiers and lived inside the castle while others were kept in dungeons before being shipped off to the New World. Gyasi used the juxtaposition of two half-sisters and the lives of their descendants to depict the lingering effects of slavery and institutional racism through the turn of the 21st century.
After receiving her degree in English from Stanford, Gyasi studied at the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She now lives in New York City where she is working on her second novel.
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