As part of Germantown Academy’s Head of School Rich Schellhas’ Distinguished Speaker Series, the school has announced that PEN/Hemingway and NBCC’s John Leonard Award-winning author Yaa Gyasi will discuss her book “Homegoing,” a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book, on February 11.
The event which is free and open to the public will be held at 7 p.m. in the Honickman Auditorium at Germantown Academy (GA), 340 Morris Rd. in Fort Washington.
Rich Schellhas, Germantown Academy Head of School, said every year he invites an author to spend time with the Germantown Academy community.
“This year, the choice was easy. Yaa Gyasi’s ‘Homegoing’ is the type of book that stays with you forever,” Schellhas said. “Her beautiful writing, compelling characters, and extraordinary story make this an unforgettable first novel. While it may be one of the most haunting books I have ever read, this multi-generational tale of two sides of a family tree divided by the slave trade taught me more than I could have ever expected. Even as a work of fiction, it helped me to think more deeply about the perpetual reverberations of slavery in the United States while simultaneously surrounding me with incredibly moving stories told in a brilliant voice. I can’t wait to hear more from Yaa Gyasi, to learn about her journey as a writer, and to find out what is next for this masterful author.”
A riveting, kaleidoscopic novel, “Homegoing” is a story of race, history, ancestry, love, and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in eighteenth-century Africa across three hundred years in Ghana and America.
It is the story of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery.
“Homegoing” stretches from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration and twentieth-century Harlem. A powerful and emotional American novel about race and history, this is truly a book for our times.
An important new literary voice, Gyasi’s writing has been praised by National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates as “an inspiration” and “what happens when you pair a gifted literary mind to an epic task.”
In September 2016, she was chosen by Coates as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honorees. Personable and intimate, Gyasi’s lectures explore contemporary craft, cultural identity, and the complex racial landscape of America’s past and present.
Born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, Gyasi is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and lives in Berkeley, California. She is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Novel, and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. “Homegoing” also was a winner at the 2017 Audie Awards.
Other visiting authors in GA’s Distinguished Speaker Series include Colson Whitehead, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, and Leah Hagar Cohen.
For more information, go to germantownacademy.net/.