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.