Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

9781594204494Ghana Must Go touches on the difficulties immigrants face in trying to establish roots and to fit into a new country with its different cultural expectations.

Starting with the longest death scene I can recall in a book (60 pages from memory), we are taken deeper into events that test the fragile foundations of the Sai family. Fear, secrets and a little pride helps trigger the fragmentation of the family.

Mostly told in flashback, each family member’s journey is revealed step by step. Suspicion, jealousy and hostility are exposed and eventually we find out the reasons behind the destructive emotional climate affecting the family.

It took a little while for me to follow what was happening. I found the first part of the book to be the most difficult. At times more poetry than straight forward narrative, we are given a first glimpse into the Sai family through the memories of the dying Kweku – as if parts of his life are “flashing before his eyes”.

Subsequent sections add memories from other view points as we are introduced to other family members, and we are shown how badly fractured their relationships have become. It is only when the family is forced back together by Kweku’s death that secrets can be relinquished, forgiveness can replace guilt and blame, and the hope of reconciliation becomes possible.

The journey isn’t always pleasant. Some of the situations in the book are quite confronting. A couple of brief scenes of graphic sexual content could be seen by some as offensive, but unlike the case of so many other books, I found those scenes were not gratuitous at all. They were intended to be disturbing. They didn’t treat the portrayed events lightly and were not included without significant purpose.

Recently I have written about my reluctance to re-read books. While reading through this one I started to realise I could very easily return to it before too long. I enjoyed it and know there is more I could discover from a second reading.


4 thoughts on “Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

  1. : ) Thank you so much for the review. I bought (a few weeks or so ago) a copy — for someone else — so I wouldn’t forget about it. I think, then, I’ll be able to borrow it through the kindle cloud when I have time to read it. I’m in the middle of two other books right now because of you; one of the two is by an author you wrote about here, but a different book and entirely via sound (what (?) is that called… Audible)… THE SPANISH BOW (Romano-Lax). Not only that, you’ve gotten me into a genre. I’ve bought MARCH VIOLETS (recommended by amazon when I was looking at THE DETOUR. From the descriptions, though, I’ll probably pick and choose on the Kerr (who I don’t think you’ve mentioned) titles — already removed from my wish list the one I thought I’d want to read with “Czech” in the title (darn), while that could possibly change. Right now, I have the two related books by him that touch on Cuba in my wish list.

    1. Hi Marleen, The Spanish Bow is one I definitely want to read, but it will have to wait until I’ve worked my way through the (too) many books I’ve bought recently. At the moment I can’t justify buying more while so many recent purchases remain unread.

      I’ve almost finished my current book and haven’t decided what to tackle next. I’m expecting another in the mail any day now. If it arrives before the weekend I think I’ll start on that one: Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam. If it doesn’t arrive in time I might start with NW by Zadie Smith.

      I’m trying to alternate between “literary” books and “popular fiction”. It’s the turn of “literary” book next.

  2. Hi there. There’s no point in buying more books in my world, right now, either. Even though I’m not reading it yet, I did already buy THE DETOUR (electronic, but not Audible, form) on the same day I bought her other book. I also have a “like new” hardback copy of WORLDSHAKER (on a shelf) to look forward to. Oh, and there’s the combo Whispernet and e-book — Whispersync — WATERSHIP DOWN. But I think GHANA MUST GO is next.

    1. My problem at the moment is deciding which book to start next. I’m still hoping to receive Blind man’s Garden in the next day or two so have decided against starint anything that would take too much of a time commitment. For now I’ve returned to a biography of Lee Krasner that I’d put aside a couple of weeks ago.

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