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Yaa Gyasi’s multigenerational novel Homegoing is now mandatory reading for freshers at her alma mater, Stanford University. The heavy-hitting first novel was chosen as part of the university’s “Three Books” programme in which freshers are encouraged to read three recommended books.

Set in Ghana and the US, Homegoing spans three centuries and seven generations, and follows two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, and their descendants as they navigate the irrevocable damage of slavery. Bought for a rumoured $1 million, the novel has found what the Los Angeles Times describes as “blazing success”: it won the 2016 National Book Critics’ Circle (NBCC) John Leonard Prize, earned a nomination for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction at the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards, was a The New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and secured Gyasi a place on Granta‘s prestigious Best of Young American Novelists list of 2017.

Months ago, we did a feature how the novel compares to other major books of historical fiction from Africa.

Here’s information from Stanford’s Website on the selection.

Three Books is a signature Stanford New Student Orientation program for first-year and new transfer students. Each year, a faculty moderator selects three books for incoming undergraduate students to read over the summer. The program culminates in a panel and roundtable discussion with the authors during NSO, where students are given the special opportunity to ask the authors questions and hear their perspectives.

This year, our faculty moderator, Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh (Professor of Earth System Science), chose books on the theme of Sustainability & Equity:

  • Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing

  • Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

  • Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones

Here is the university Website page for the novel.

Congratulations to Yaa Gyasi.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017), for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. His conversations appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. Born in Aba, he combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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