Ghana Must Go: A Novel

Ghana Must Go: A Novel

4.0 12
by Taiye Selasi

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Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the


Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the transformative power of unconditional love, from a debut novelist of extraordinary talent.  

Moving with great elegance through time and place, Ghana Must Go charts the Sais’ circuitous journey to one another. In the wake of Kweku’s death, his children gather in Ghana at their enigmatic mother’s new home. The eldest son and his wife; the mysterious, beautiful twins; the baby sister, now a young woman: each carries secrets of his own. What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they came apart: the hearts broken, the lies told, the crimes committed in the name of love. Splintered, alone, each navigates his pain, believing that what has been lost can never be recovered—until, in Ghana, a new way forward, a new family, begins to emerge.

Ghana Must Go is at once a portrait of a modern family, and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are. In a sweeping narrative that takes us from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, Ghana Must Go teaches that the truths we speak can heal the wounds we hide.

Editorial Reviews

In Ghana, Kweku Sai was a famous surgeon, renowned for his life-saving skills; but when his family gathers together for his funeral, they do not bask in fond memories of his professional deeds. Instead, they grapple with the personal wreckage that he left behind. When he abandoned his wife for another woman, he lost not only her, but also all four of his children. In this first novel by London-born, American-raised novelist Taiye Selasi, a family struggles towards a partial reconciliation.

Library Journal
At the opening of Selasi's debut novel is Kweku Sai's death. The family he abandoned goes on a trip to Ghana to pay their respects and also on a journey of remembrance as Selasi skillfully reveals the pain each family member endures. The narrative details the Sai family's collective grief but also their discrete heartaches and individual coping strategies. With craft and compassion, Selasi allows Fola, Kweku's first wife, and her four children to tell their distinct stories in their own voices: the eldest son, Olu, who attempts to follow in his father's footsteps; the talented twins, Taiwo, a law student, and her brother Kehinde, an artist; and Sadie, the youngest daughter who barely knew her father. When the family reunites in Fola's new Ghanaian home, their individual as well as joint healing begins. VERDICT Unleashing a strong new literary voice, Selasi joins other gifted writers such as Zadie Smith and Edwidge Danticat with connections to Africa or the African diaspora. Recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, 10/15/12.]—Faye Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon Libs., Eugene
From the Publisher
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."

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
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File size:
711 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Taiye Selasi was born in London and raised in Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. in American studies from Yale and an M.Phil. in international relations from Oxford. “The Sex Lives of African Girls” (Granta, 2011), Selasi’s fiction debut, will appear in Best American Short Stories 2012. She lives in Rome.

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Ghana Must Go 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
bonkey More than 1 year ago
A Master piece! Very well done Ms. Selasi. I'm a fan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was beautifully written. As the book progresses, you become engulfed in the drama and trials of the family and see their growth over time. It is definitely a must read.
BlkGrlwithLibrary More than 1 year ago
I haven't read any other books by this writer but now I am a fan. The one she builds the story kept me turning pages. As well as the accurate descriptions of people and places. It's truly a unique voice and eccentric way to weave a story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ultimately we are all searching for the place we call home. Wanting so much to buy into what others define for us. Depending on your generation and culture it can be harder than it appears. Taiye Selasi deals with race as Americans view it, West African culture, loss as only Africans know it and a desire to move past our past. Amazingly touching and relatable to a person of any race but particularly to those of us who are made of more than one race. It touched me in so many way.
NSALegal More than 1 year ago
Rich, complex, distinct character development of a family in the wake of Kweku Sai's death. The characters are sympathetic through their flaws, and their reactions are plausible given how family history has affected them differently. Different, worthwhile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Ghana Must Go" is the poignant, indelible tale of an immigrant family, brought together by the promise of the American dream, torn apart by the nightmare of racism and betrayal by family, but ultimately reunited by the power of love and African tradition.  A stylistic tour-de-force, this novel enthralls and enchants.  Selasi's supple lyricism is informed by a fierce, unblinking intelligence that analyzes the fatal legacies of colonialism as deftly as it plumbs the recesses of the individual human heart.  In "Ghana Must Go" the political is personal, and the personal is political.  When you reach the final pages of this glorious celebration of the power of language, you pray the story will never end.  This is a book of substance to be savored by seaside vacationers and scholars alike.  In her underground classic essay "Bye Bye Babbar," the brainy and unearthly beautiful Ms. Selasi has already added a new term--"Afropolitan"--to contemporary discourse about the African Diaspora.  If this is the Age of Afropolitanism, "Ghana Must Go" is its founding testament.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry darlin",I tapped into MORE BY THIS AUTHOR and it looks like GHANA MUST GO is TAIYE SELASI'onlly book as of yet.It's been a little over a year since you posted your review so who knows,SELASI may have a work in progress as we're"SPEAKING"Good luck Doll. Be kind to one another. Granny B.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very confusing to get into this story. I'm having a struggle to keep going...maybe it will get better by page 150? YIKES...!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
one star