Books

She wrote a devastating novel about the slave trade. Now she’s coming to Miami

Ghanaian-American Yaa Gyasi was 26 when she published ‘Homegoing.’
Ghanaian-American Yaa Gyasi was 26 when she published ‘Homegoing.’

Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi should be getting used to literary honors by now. She has earned a slew of awards for her novel “Homegoing” (Vintage, $16), about two sisters in 18th century Ghana — one marries a wealthy Englishman; the other is sold into slavery — and the paths their descendants take into the modern day.

The novel earned the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for best first book, the PEN/Hemingway Award for a first book of fiction and the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35” honors for 2016. The book also was recently won an Audie Award for the audiobook in the Literary Fiction & Classics.

Now Gyasi returns to South Florida — she was here earlier this year for the Broward County Public Library’s Lit Live! event — to talk “Homegoing” at Books & Books in Coral Gables.

Dana De Greff, creator of PageSlayers, a summer writing camp for Opa-locka students that was the recipient of a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge, will lead a conversation with the author. Not surprisingly, she believes “Homegoing” is an vital work of fiction.

homegoing
‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi, now out in paperback, earned the author numerous awards.

“The book deals with questions about race and ethnicity and identity and where we belong in this world, not only in the States or Africa but anywhere,” says De Greff, who reviewed the novel for the Miami Herald. “Look at politics — everything feels more urgent than when she first published it.”

Gyasi started work on the book in 2009 after a trip to Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle, where slaves were kept.

“Slavery is something we have not gotten over,” she told The Guardian recently, adding that seeing the dungeons at the castle “devastated” her. “It is on people’s minds and it affects us still.”

Meet the author

Who: Yaa Gyasi

When: 7 p.m. June 15

Where: Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables

Info: 305-442-4408 or http://www.booksandbooks.com/

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