Top Picks in Historical Fiction 2017

Homegoing by Yaa GyasiThe Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadHuman Acts by Han Kang

Homegoing (2016) by Yaa Gyasi is a beautifully written story that travels through time from the villages of Ghana to the United States following a family lineage and exploring heavy topics of slavery, rape, coal mining, and so much more. Gyasi’s novel blew me away, and filled me with an overabundence of emotions. If I had had time I would have read this book in a single sitting, as I struggled to pull myself away each time I had to go to work.

The Underground Railroad (2016) by Colson Whitehead was also told through several voices, although primarily through that of Cora, a young slave. Whitehead’s novel gives us multiple perspectives on slavery, and gives readers the ease of magical realism as metaphor while at the same time giving readers such an honest story. I found this novel extremely compelling.

Human Acts by Han Kang is a series of short stories told in different voices, and this book was the hardest of them all for me. Kang’s writing was haunting, and I found the writing beautiful but dense. I read each story separately from the others, as I found I needed time to process between each story, but her writing was amazing. I knew nothing about the uprising in South Korea prior to reading this collection of short stories, and Kang’s work was a beautiful introduction to such a tragic element of history.

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