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Reading Homegoing

- The Experience, Saadya Chevan '19

The cover of the book Homegoing.
The cover of Gyasi's novel, "Homegoing."

Perhaps the passage I felt most at home within this summer’s Connecticut College reading, Yaa Gyasi’s graceful historical fiction novel “Homegoing,” came in the very last chapter of the book, which focuses on Marcus, a graduate student working on his doctoral thesis at Stanford University. A few pages into the chapter, the narrator explains that “Originally [Marcus had] wanted to focus his work on the convict leasing system that had stolen years off of his great-grandpa H’s life”. However, the narrator goes on to explain that Marcus felt he would also have to write about the Great Migration, which his grandparents participated in when they moved from Pratt City in Birmingham, Alabama, to Harlem in New York City. Writing about the Great Migration would in turn make Marcus feel he should also write about histories that had affected his father’s and his lives, specifically the effects of heroin, crack-cocaine and the war on drugs in Harlem.

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