The Watertown Free Public Library announced the selection of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi for the 2017 One Book, One Watertown program. The novel Homegoing opens in 18th-century Ghana, as two half-sisters meet wildly divergent fates: one kidnapped and sold into slavery, the other wed to a British slave trader. In subsequent chapters, author Yaa Gyasi tells the stories of the women’s descendants on both sides of the Atlantic.
The WFPL posted the following on their website:
“While these characters’ lives may seem far removed from 21st-century Watertown, their humanity speaks across centuries and continents to our own deeply human fears and hopes. Their history is our history, and confronting it—along with the painful legacies of slavery, colonialism, and racism that it inexorably exhumes—is our responsibility.
“We have selected Homegoing for the WFPL’s 2017 One Book, One Watertown program to enable our community to face this responsibility together, through the lens of fiction and with the illuminating perspectives of friends, neighbors, and experts. Our programming will explore some of the historical and cultural touchpoints of the book.”
The program will include events like a screening of “Alice’s Ordinary People,” a documentary about one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement, presented by filmmaker Craig Dudnick. Later, community members are invited to attend programs about slavery in New England, West African musical and culinary traditions, and the current state of race relations in the U.S.
All community members will have an opportunity to join the conversation. To guide readers towards further discovery, WFPL librarians will provide a list of books from voices that aren’t often heard. For as Gyasi’s character Yaw says, “When you study history, you must 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.”
Starting in January, copies of Homegoing will be available at the library in a variety of formats including eBooks and audiobooks. Events and discussions will take place in March. Visit watertownlib.org/onebook for the latest updates.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is:
- A New York Times 2016 Notable Book
- One of Oprah’s 10 Favorite Books of 2016
- #3 on Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 Books of 2016
- NPR’s Debut Novel of the Year
- One of Buzzfeed’s Best Fiction Books of 2016
- One of Time’s Top 10 Novels of 2016