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Ghana Must Go Hardcover – March 5, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 218 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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


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.”

The Economist:
"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."

Entertainment Weekly:
"[Selasi] writes elegantly about the ways people grow apart — husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and kids."

Elle magazine:
"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."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594204497
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594204494
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So Kweku Sai knows as he lies dying in his garden. He is a remarkable surgeon. He must have known he had had a cardiac event. He took no action in that golden 30 minutes between event and dying. And he was barefoot.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kweku Sai finally meets his end in the midst of remembering. He remembers his daughter, the beautiful Taiwo, his wife, the unreadable Fola and most of all he remembers how he abandoned his family, running from America to Ghana. Through his eyes we watch a family as it is being built, through struggles, hardships and fleeting triumph only to be torn apart and seemingly destroyed beyond repair.

Ghana Must Go started off as a challenging read for me because the first 50 or so pages are grossly overwritten. For one thing, Kweku's death is relived by the reader at least four times in the first half of the book. Each time the death is revisited, it is perceived from a slightly different vantage point. To me, these retellings of the same incident in no way adds anything to the story's trajectory in any meaningful extent that would justify the repetition. There was also a lot of jumping back and forth between past and present and this inability to stay on one idea sometimes made the story hard to comprehend and connect with in a sustainable way. In the first half of the book, a number of people asked me if the book was good and I would respond with a very frustrated "I have no idea cause it won't get to the point."

Another very frustrating thing about the book was the way it segues into random philosophical musings. Rather than make me more attached to the story, these musings drew me away in a most jarring fashion. For example, there is a scene where Kweku goes looking for a carpenter. When he gets to the location, he is met by a little boy who is to be his guide in finding said carpenter. Here the story suddenly segues into four to five paragraphs about smiling children from impoverished circumstances and the implications of their cheerfulness even in the face of adversity.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Absolutely terrific. A stunning debut. This is a family tale, told with such realism the prose just sings off the page. She describes one character thusly, "Ama isn't a fighter. She comes to breakfast without weapons and to bed in the evening undressed and unarmed." Damn! This is the kind of writing you will be treated to when you read this novel. The story evolves in a circular manner, which keeps things tense and exciting.

The novel opens with the death of Kweku Sai, a father, husband and renowned surgeon. We learn of this man's life and his children through looking back, but not in a linear way, but in a orbitual way, with the prose always shining. Kweku and his first wife have four children, who are given complexity and depth by Ms. Selasi's brilliant writing. Kweku has struggled hard to reach the heights of his profession, hailing from Ghana, to succeed in America, the often untold immigrant story, vividly on display here. His dutiful and beautiful wife Fola has borne him four children and has been a loyal partner. The family suddenly unravels due to a very unfortunate event. Or rather Kweku's response to this event. The domino effects of Kweku's decision will affect wife and children.

The fallout is quite disruptive and leads to a splintering of the family. The author skillfully weaves the differing perspectives of how this situation has impacted wife and children, over a number of years and numerous places. The children's stories are captivating and unforgettable, leaving an impression long after you've finished the book. Essentially, the novel seeks to answer the question of how does a family repair and recover, is it even possible? Was family ever a reality?

I think the book description sums it up best, "What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they came apart..."

This is simply a great book, I guarantee you will find this novel on many top ten novel lists. Trust me!
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