Around the World for a Good Book selection for Ghana
Author: Taiye Selasi
Title: Ghana Must Go
Narrator: Adjoa Andoh
Publication Info: Penguin Audio (2013)
I was surprised that my Around the World for a Good Book selection for Ghana turns out to have a good portion of the narrative set close to home in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Selasi’s novel is a story of immigration, family, the long term ramifications of choices made, and an attempt to peer beyond the stereotypes of Africa and Africans.
The novel is set around the family of Kweku Sai, long isolated from one another, coming together in Ghana for his funeral. Kweku immigrated to America where he became a celebrated surgeon, but after being unjustly fired, the great shame causes him to leave his family and return to Ghana. His wife Fola was a law student who gave up her career to support Kweku, and faces difficult choices when forced to raise 4 children on her own. The eldest son Olu follows his father into medicine, but his father’s abandonment leaves him fearful of commitment. The sister-brother twins Taiwo and Kehinde bear the scars of being sent to live with Fola’s brother in Nigeria after Kweku’s departure and the sexual abuse they suffered there. The youngest child Sadie didn’t know her father at all and until shortly before the main narrative begins had been very close with her mother. All of their stories are told in extended flashbacks intertwined with the present day story.
This is a heartbreaking and harrowing novel and should come with a big trigger warning. It unfortunately tends toward the melodramatic although there is honesty in the family dynamics portrayed. Thankfully, this is also a story of redemption and healing, although it is still hard to not feel unsettled after reading.
Recommended books: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan