Yaa Gyasi: 2020 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature


– Homegoing is the novel that follows eight generations
of a single family starting with two matriarchs Effia and
Esi who were living in Ghana in the 18th century. Effia is the wife of the British governor of the Cape Coast Castle
which is a slave fort and Esi is kept in that same castle as a slave, before being sent to America. – I was born in Mampong
Ghana and I moved to the US when I was two. We moved
around a lot when I was young and I think as a result I
kind of got shier and shier and so for me, one thing
that felt very constant was the fact that I could always go to the library and get books. Every place that we moved
my dad had this ritual he would open the phone book and look for Ghanaian sounding last names and then just call them up and be like, ‘Hey we’re here’. So I felt pretty surrounded by community and then each place that
we moved to subsequently there were fewer and fewer Ghanaians. So I guess the progress was one of like diminishing community. I think I’m interested in
generational trauma, family trauma mostly because I don’t have
a good sense of my own family and I was always curious
about where I came from, curious about what it would
look like to kind of be able to piece families back together in a way that I would never
be able to do for myself. Mostly I hope that people
will start to see themselves again as part of a bigger story. If you understand history
as an ongoing story. I think it changes the
way that you interact with your time today.

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