49 Chimes of Freedom
The memory of captivity is burned deep into the psyche of America, so it is no surprise that novelists continue to revisit the impact of slavery. Born in Ghana and raised in Alabama, Yaa Gyasi imagines how the force of slavery ricocheted through generations, beginning with two half-sisters in 18th century Ghana. The 26-year-old has earned a remarkable seven-figure advance for her debut novel Homegoing. Lives shaped and misshaped by the historical force of slavery has been a 15-year fascination for Colson Whitehead, US author of five novels. He turns the metaphorical underground railroad into an actual network of hidden tracks in The Underground Railroad, a shattering tale about a young slave’s desperate bid for freedom. “It’s all timeless American misery,” he says.