Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing is a 305-page sweeping historical/cultural fiction novel written by Yaa Gyasi, published by Knopf in June of 2016.

HomegoingI wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel, but what I got was a mind-blowing experience. The novel follows the lineal descendants of half-sisters Effia and Esi, born in eighteenth-century Ghana. Each chapter features the successive descendants of these women, from eighteenth century Ghanaian slavery to twentieth-century Harlem. More


Five Dances with Death: Dance One by Austin Briggs

Through the program Adopt an Indie, I was able to receive a book from an author that published his novel through Helvetic House. I was very excited to get involved in this, and I’m sure it was fun for the authors, as well. If you wish to know more about this program, visit my post:


Adopt an Indie month is occurring again in February of 2012, so if you are interested in being involved as a writer, a reader, or a blogger, feel free to sign up! It was a fun experience.

I received Austin Briggs’s novel, Five Dances with Death: Dance One. I was almost immediately struck with the unique feel he gives to the book. It’s centered around an Aztec village, Tlaxcala, where a man, Angry Wasp, has lost his daughter to a warring tribe and is trying to get her back by any means possible.

Five Dances with Death: Dance One

Adopt an Indie book

I loved the idea that death was present throughout the novel. It wasn’t depressing or dark, but simply a fact. I also really enjoyed the setting and the realistic feel of it. You can tell that Briggs has the knowledge necessary to write a story about the Mexica people — it never felt like a gimmick, or like that was the focus of the story. It was merely a richly interesting setting in which he told the story of Angry Wasp. The game of bean-throwing (the actual name eludes me at the moment) was especially intense. Briggs expertly creates tension and release between the characters.

Although the story was compelling, some of the dialogue felt a little trite. I enjoyed most of the Moonwalk People’s language, some of it felt a little haughty. I found this odd seeing as they were supposed to be the savages — perhaps that was the intention, that they were trying to appear better than they were. There were also a few misused words, where an editor with a sharp eye and a heavy hand could have fixed. Although, for a self-published book, it was well done.

The setup to this story was brilliant, and I was drawn in immediately. It’s ending was satisfying enough to interest me in reading the next book. The only problem I had with this novel was the middle — at times I desired to put it down or to skip ahead to see what happened in the end. It seemed like the plot shied away from what I really desired to know, and focused on the politics of the many tribes. I’m sure this will interest some, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Overall, this book was well detailed and interesting because of it’s uniqueness and sincerity of setting and character development.

Stay tuned for an interview with Austin Briggs about the Adopt and Indie program and about his book, Five Dances with Death: Dance One.