Ghanaian-American novelist Yaa Gyasi is the author of the debut novel, Homegoing. From her Q&A with Kate Kellaway for the Guardian:
Why trace your story through the generations?--Marshal Zeringue
I began Homegoing in 2009 after a trip to Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle [where slaves were incarcerated]. The tour guide told us that British soldiers who lived and worked in the castle often married local women – something I didn’t know. I wanted to juxtapose two women – a soldier’s wife with a slave. I thought the novel would be traditionally structured, set in the present, with flashbacks to the 18th century. But the longer I worked, the more interested I became in being able to watch time as it moved, watch slavery and colonialism and their effects – I wanted to see the through-line.
How did the dungeons make you feel?
I was devastated. I felt immense rage. The dungeons still smell after hundreds of years. There was grime on the walls and a tiny air hole at the top. When they closed the door, there was no light. Hundreds of people were kept there for three months at a time before being sent God knew where. The terror they must have felt – not knowing what was to become of them. You can imagine and you cannot...[read on]