Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What happens when after seven years your novel finally gets published?


ON JUNE 9, I MET YAA GYASI at her hotel in Hollywood, California. Gyasi was here to talk about her much anticipated novel, Homegoing, as part of the Los Angeles Public Library ALOUD series. Gyasi is of Ghanaian parentage; raised in Huntsville, Alabama; and educated at Stanford and the University of Iowa, where she completed an MFA, and where she wrote and edited Homegoing.

But the novel had been something she had been thinking about and working on for the last seven years (she is 27 years old).

Growing up, she was a voracious reader of literature, attracted to the Victorians. In college, she encountered Toni Morrison and James Baldwin, seeing her own questions and reality on the page — a representation of what it meant to be part of the black diaspora. Then she received a research fellowship at Stanford to travel to Ghana, and here she encountered a narrative that had largely been hidden from her. Visiting the Cape Coast Castle, she learned the role of Africans in the slave trade, and began to rethink the transatlantic slave trade beyond the black/white dialogic: Africans too, she realized, were complicit in the enterprise of racial capital across the New World

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