Selasi’s gorgeous debut is a thoughtful look at how the sacrifices we make for our family can be its very undoing. After arriving in America from Ghana, a promising but penniless young man, Kweku Sai, becomes a famed surgeon living in Boston with his wife, Fola, and children, proof of the American dream. Years later, now 57 and married to another woman, Kweku, back in Ghana, is dying in the garden of his home in Accra. After his death, Fola and their four grown children gather in Ghana for the funeral of the man who abandoned them 16 years ago. This emotional reunion reveals to what extent Kweku fractured his beloved family by leaving them. The twins, Taiwo and Kehinde, once inseparable, have not spoken in 18 months; wounded by something neither will disclose, their bond has been eroded by anguish. Olu, the eldest, emulates his father in business but wants his marriage to be “something better than” the family he knows. And the youngest, Sadie, feels inadequate in the shadow of her successful siblings. 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. Agent: The Wylie Agency. (Mar.)
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… 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 bonds of love, loss and misunderstanding connecting an African family are exhaustively dissected in a convoluted first novel. The death of Kweku Sai, a noted surgeon, in the garden of his home in Accra, Ghana, on page one is followed by an impressionistic account of his life--glimpses of childhood and parenthood, moments of shame and bad decisions, regrets, ironies and final thoughts. One central event was the breakup of Kweku's marriage to Fola and separation from his four children: Olu, twins Taiwo and Kehinde and youngest Sadie. The remainder of the book follows the impact of the patriarch's death on this group, which assembles for the funeral. Olu, now half of a Boston-based "golden couple," doesn't believe in family. Taiwo is still in therapy after her high-profile student affair with the dean of law. Artist Kehinde, hiding in Brooklyn, yearns shamefully for his sister. And anxious Sadie is bulimic and withdrawn. This complicated cast is matched by Selasi's taste for fragmented, overloaded sentences: "That still farther, past ‘free,' there lay ‘loved,' in her laughter, lay ‘home' in her touch, in the soft of her Afro?" More secrets, wounds and identity crises are rehashed in Africa, until the scattering of the ashes restores some unity. Introverted, clotted, short of narrative drive and, above all, unconvincing, this sensitive but obsessive family anatomization will test the patience of many readers.
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.
Taiye Selasi is a totally new and near perfect voice that spans continents and social stratum 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.” - Sapphire, author of Precious
"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." - Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“[Selasi] writes elegantly about the ways people grow apart— husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and kids.” - Entertainment Weekly
"One of 2013's must read novels." - Flare
“A stunning debut, as exceptional as the deserving hype that preceded it, which included the news that Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie are fans.” - Toronto Star
“Selasi’s strengths as an author are in the microscopic image – a dewdrop, a flower – and the way she can pull the camera back on a specific moment to propel the story. . . but the novel spans decades, flashing expertly through time, and Selasi handles this challenge masterfully. . . An emotionally insightful story that updates the typical African immigrant narrative and refuses to simplify, moralize or exoticize a complicated history.” - Globe and Mail
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