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Ghana Must Go: A Novel Paperback – January 28, 2014
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A father’s death leads to a new beginning for his fractured family in this powerful first novel. Kweku Sai is felled by a sudden heart attack at his home in Ghana. At the moment of his death, Kweku is filled with regret for his abandonment of his first wife, Fola, and their four children in Baltimore, many years ago, after losing his job as a surgeon. His four children are now scattered across the East Coast: Olu, a gifted surgeon who followed in his father’s footsteps; twins Taiwo and Kehinde, who share a terrible secret from childhood; and youngest daughter Sadie, who is struggling with her body image and sexuality. In the wake of their father’s death, the four siblings, along with Olu’s wife, Ling, reunite to journey to their mother’s home in Ghana, where secrets, resentments, and grief bubble to the surface. A finely crafted yarn that seamlessly weaves the past and present, Selasi’s moving debut expertly limns the way the bonds of family endure even when they are tested and strained. --Kristine Huntley --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Nell Freudenberger, The New York Times Book Review:
"Selasi’s ambition—to show her readers not "Africa" but one African family, authors of their own achievements and failures—is one that can be applauded no matter what accent you give the word."
The Wall Street Journal:
“Irresistible from the first line—'Kweku dies barefoot on a Sunday before sunrise, his slippers by the doorway to the bedroom like dogs'—this bright, rhapsodic debut stood out in the thriving field of fiction about the African diaspora.”
"Ghana Must Go comes with a bagload of prepublication praise. For once, the brouhaha is well deserved. Ms. Selasi has an eye for the perfect detail: a baby's toenails 'like dewdrops', a woman sleeps 'like a cocoyam. A thing without senses... unplugged from the world.' As a writer she has a keen sense of the baggage of childhood pain and an unforgettable voice on the page. Miss out on Ghana Must Go and you will miss one of the best new novels of the season."
The Wall Street Journal:
"Buoyant... a joy... Rapturous."
"[Selasi] writes elegantly about the ways people grow apart — husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and kids."
"In Ghana Must Go, Selasi drives the six characters skillfully through past and present, unearthing old betrayals and unexplained grievances at a delicious pace. By the time the surviving five convene at a funeral in Ghana, we are invested in their reconciliation—which is both realistically shaky and dramatically satisfying… Narrative gold."
The Daily Beast:
"Selasi’s prose… is a rewarding mix of soulful conjuring and intelligent introspection, and points to a bright future."
"Powerful... A finely crafted yarn that seamlessly weaves the past and present, Selasi’s moving debut expertly limns the way the bonds of family endure even when they are tested and strained."
Publishers Weekly (starred review):
"Gorgeous. Reminiscent of Jhumpa Lahiri but with even greater warmth and vibrancy, Selasi’s novel, driven by her eloquent prose, tells the powerful story of a family discovering that what once held them together could make them whole again."
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love:
"Taiye Selasi is a young writer of staggering gifts and extraordinary sensitivity. Ghana Must Go seems to contain the entire world, and I shall never forget it.”
Sapphire, author of The Kid and Push:
"Taiye Selasi is a totally new and near perfect voice that spans continents and social strata as effortlessly as the insertion of an ellipsis or a dash. With mesmerizing craftsmanship and massive imagination she takes the reader on an unforgettable journey across continents and most importantly deeply into the lives of the people whom she writes about. She de-'exoticizes' whole populations and demographics and brings them firmly into the readers view as complicated and complex human beings. Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go is a big novel, elemental, meditative, and mesmerizing; and when one adds the words 'first novel,' we speak about the beginning of an amazing career and a very promising life in letters."
Teju Cole, author of Open City:
"Ghana Must Go is both a fast moving story of one family's fortunes and an ecstatic exploration of the inner lives of its members. With her perfectly-pitched prose and flawless technique, Selasi does more than merely renew our sense of the African novel: she renews our sense of the novel, period. An astonishing debut."
Top customer reviews
There are no wasted words in this extraordinary novel. Each thought and each word fits into the whole. Kweku is 58 when he dies. He has four children, an ex wife and a new wife. Each of them comes to terms with his death in ways that are unexpected to them. Much bitterness has passed. He has taught himself and them that "loss is a notion. No more than a thought." But the small moments that elude closing the door on a grief or a memory come to light.
My favorite passage in the book is his trope on his new young wife, Ama. "She is a woman who can be satisfied." She is able to see to her needs without destroying the world around her. She is happy with him, and he is amazed. His first wife and his sister and his daughter were dangerous dreamer women. They saw the world as it could be making them insatiable. Despite the fact that I am of the dangerous variety, this vision of Ama is enchanting.
Kweku died without his slippers, yes I already said that. But his slippers come to symbolize the poor village boy, with scarred feet, who has come into the world of wealth and elegance where he might wear slippers. He dies without them in his wonderful house, back in Acra, overseeing the sea. The rest of the book is coming to terms. And to teach without being precious or hackneyed, the world is beautiful.
Home to the human condition. Family love and heartbreak, human ambition and the wreckage it can make, wanting to belong and, in this globalized world, wanting not to belong, art and devastation, the longing to salvage meaning from the struggle, it's all here.
Clearly written by a woman, but with a lot of insight into the male heart, too. Selasie has that rare gift, a feel for how life feels, and she uses it judiciously and artfully to bring a hundred flashes of insight and a few powerful scenes.
The family was devastated by an injustice in the heart of an institution that should have been safe from such abuse. The stresses that built up in the years of reaching that position just washed the family solidarity away. The mother's resulting depression led to even more betrayal. And many years later, the family gets together for the father's funeral, and secrets come out.
If that sounds melodramatic, then I have misled by encapsulating. The most striking thing about "Ghana Must Go" is the texture, the feeling that life's disappointments and frustrations are given subtle shape by the postures we have taken, but given life and meaning by the inner self which, in a real way, we all share.
The death of Kweku Sai in his garden, sans slippers and in slow motion, heralded in an amazing journey through time, joys, sorrows, heroism, deep insecurities, terror, and shame that touched each member of his family through two generations of immigrants from West Africa. It was through their stories and Ms. Selasi's rich philosophical prose that I was able to feel the anguish of leaving and being left while trying, yet not quite succeeding, in fitting into a new country and different culture. Maybe this was even more difficult for the second generation, the children, who felt in many ways deeply deprived of a connection to their own roots, and who suffered in unique and powerful ways as they moved into adulthood. As the stories unfold, each bright and talented member of the family reconnect to each other and their ancestors when they finally gather with their strong and beautiful matriarch, Fola, at their father's funeral in Ghana. A place where they are the majority and where the rhythm of life and death are gathered in beautiful sorrow, a new beginning. I loved this book.
Most recent customer reviews
very annoying. Often I fount myself having to re-read just to understand.Read more