Literary Event of the Week: Seattle Reads Homegoing

This is the 20th year of the Seattle Reads program, which was originally (and, in my opinion, more successfully) known as "If All Seattle Read the Same Book." You know the idea by now: the Seattle Public Library chooses a book and delivers many dozens of copies to branches around the city. Then, in May, they bring the author to town to read in multiple locations and formats over the course of about a week.

This year's Seattle Reads choice is Homegoing, the debut novel by Yaa Gyasi. (You can see a calendar of Gyasi's appearances on SPL's website.) Homegoing tracks the lives of two sisters born in the 18th century. One is captured and sold into slavery, the other marries into a privileged family. Gyasi follows the sisters and their descendants through history with the confidence one normally associates with someone who has published a long line of novels. It is not a DFW-style doorstop, but it somehow spans 250 years from cover to cover.

Gyasi is arriving in Seattle at a high point in her career - when Ta-Nehisi Coates refers to you as "an inspiration," you know you're doing something right - but it's easy to imagine that she'll ascend to even higher peaks in years to come. The Seattle Reads program is a great way for our city to stake a claim on Gyasi's future success, to ensure that she'll return to share her victories with us for years to come.

(Various locations and times, free.)