Yaa Gyasi’ debut novel Homegoing was among the 16 books that won the American Book Awards. The book, which has been made a compulsory read for freshers of Stanford University, her alma mater, has won other prizes such as the 2017 National Book Critics’ Circle’s John Leonard First Book Prize and the 2017 PEN Hemingway award for debut fiction.
The Ghanaian writer whose work has been described by Zadie Smith as “an intelligent, beautiful and healing read” wrote about two sisters; one sold into slavery and the other a slave trader’s wife. Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author of Between the World and Me described the book as an inspiration.
In a press release on the 38th annual American Book Awards, The Before Columbus Foundation stated that the awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.
According to Brittle Paper, a leading African literary magazine it said of the novel: “Bought for a rumoured $1 million, the novel has found what the Los Angeles Times describes as “blazing success”: it won the 2016 National Book Critics’ Circle (NBCC) John Leonard Prize, earned a nomination for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction at the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards, was a The New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and secured Gyasi a place on Granta‘s prestigious Best of Young American Novelists list of 2017.”
Gyasi’s Homegoing was one of Oprah’s favourite books of 2016.