Yaa Gyasi, 2016

This is an extraordinary book by a young African-American novelist.  The title is taken from an old African-American belief that death allows an enslaved person’s spirit to travel back to Africa.  Gyasi follows the lives of two sisters—Effia and Esi—from the West African nation of Ghani.  Effia marries an English officer and stays in Africa, while her sister is captured by her own people and sold to the British as a slave and sent to America..  Each chapter is told by the descendants of the sisters and represents a generation for each.  This bold format reads like separate stories.  Gyasi’s genius is in telling the saga so that the bloodlines intersect to the present day.

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