I wasn’t too moved when I first read the synopsis for Taiye Selasi’s debut novel, Ghana Must Go:
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… 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.
I don’t know…something about it starting off with a death in Ghana didn’t sit right with me; but a lot of folks were cosigning the book, so I went ahead and added it to my to-reads list. My hesitance, then, resurfaced once I saw all of the press the novel was receiving from mainstream media. (I mean could I really trust them to recommend me a book set in Africa?) Still I placed a hold on the book at my local library. I got the email that it was ready for pick up several days ago but waited until yesterday to check it out. I started to read it while still in the library. Within a few pages, my concern that the book was over-hyped quickly faded. I mean if someone else’s writing gets me to put pen to paper, it’s got to be something special, right?
Well, I had an interesting encounter at the library and Taiye Selasi’s writing encouraged me to write a flash piece about it. Check it out:
Page 17: Kweku Sai had begun to choke on his own tears, watching as his newborn daughter struggled to live. His eldest son, Olu, was there to calm him.
An elbow planted firmly on the edge of the book, knuckle at my temple, I leaned into the carrel, not wanting to miss any of the story. I, too, was fully invested in the survival of Baby Sai; but I, alone, was in charge of my composure. The heels of my feet — which, if still, would hover over the floor — channelled momentum into my toes. They had already been in motion, a soothing habit of mine; but as the story moved forward, they moved wildly, in anticipation. They must have been what caught her attention.
With authority, a woman’s voice pulled me away from the story, “Excuse me.”
Now a jumble of emotions from the plot and the interruption, I turned to face the woman. A sense of nervousness crept through me. It was the library’s security guard. I’d seen her wield her power before, chastising the nearly full library about a missing bathroom key. She was going to tell me that I couldn’t charge my phone in the library. “Yes?”
“How old are you?” She sounded less forward now.
I smiled at her, still nervous and now confused, “Can I ask why?”
I’m sure the depth of my voice was a point of hesitation on her part, nevertheless she had a mission to complete. “Well this is the adult section…we have a separate area for children.”
I chuckled, ” Oh, I’m an adult.”
“Just making sure…from behind I couldn’t tell…” She started to walk away, then turned back, maybe because of embarrassment, “you just look so young. I couldn’t tell,” she repeated herself.
I laughed, genuinely, “It’s okay.”
If it weren’t for Baby Sai, I would have told her that this happens often. I readjusted myself to the story, my feet, back in motion.
Baby Sai survived.
*this flash piece is cross-posted on gisforgrace. More than likely I will check back in with a final review of the novel here or on GoodReads.
7 thoughts on “Ghana Must Go: So Far, So Good”
I ordered it too and looking forward to it. Loved her NPR interview.
You know, I tend to shy away from African literature, so I planned to pass on Ghana Must Go, but I’ve been hearing so much about it, that I might have to pick it up myself. I liked the honesty in your post, especially! Gotta listen to the NPR interview.
It was KinnaReads who got me back into African lit (just within the last year or so!). I hadn’t read much since Achebe and Camus in high school.
I picked up a hardback copy of Ghana Must Go a couple of days ago while I was in New York (it hadn’t been released in the UK), having completely forgotten I’d pre-ordered the book in iTunes. I’m actually savouring it, waiting a bit before I read it. Taiye Selasi is speaking at an event in London tomorrow and I’m looking forward to going, to hear her speak about the book herself. I completely bypassed skepticism and jumped feet-first into swooning. The media is usually quite hesitant to heap the type and quality of praise, as has been done unanimously and practically universally, on this book (epic, more than just African literature, etc.). I started worrying a bit that I’d be disappointed, but only a tiny bit 🙂
You know, I’m having the hardest time with this. I’m not sure why, but I havent gotten past the page 120. I put it down, pick it up….should I just stop trying?
Her prose is definitely not easy in the first 100 pages. But I felt it got a bit tighter after that. The storyline in the first 100 pages was what held me. If you’ve made it to 120 and you’re not feeling it, you might want to give up LOL
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