Rebelling from English Classes of Yore

The Specs

  • What: Homegoing
  • Who: Yaa Gyasi (debut novel)
  • Pages: 300
  • Genre: Historical fiction
  • Subgenre: African American studies
  • Published: 2016
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flames

Remember those early English classes where the teacher would write “protagonist” and “antagonist” on the board and stress their significance to every story? There was always a conflict between the two, but then sometimes the story really threw you for a loop and gave you a bad protagonist. I’m pretty sure certain stories were chosen in elementary curriculum to illustrate this mere fact: Your main character doesn’t have to be a good person (as if a story’s cast is that obtuse and lacks complexity). And wait a minute. Could an object, and not a human or dog, be the antagonist or protagonist? I swan.

Well, Yaa Gyasi must have taken issue with that literature lesson because her debut novel Homegoing employs neither protagonist nor antagonist. Although the story plays host to many actors, not one takes center stage. I didn’t have a chance to choose sides, despise someone, wish they would act differently, love a little harder. Homegoing didn’t rely on a central character or plot to lead me; it rests instead on an historical arc, one that lasts about two centuries.

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