The Premise: the Sais are a Nigerian-Ghanaian family, separated by geographical distance and deep emotional strife. Brought back together by tragedy, they are forced to confront their problems.
Thoughts: that summary made this book sound really cheesy, which it isn’t; I just don’t want to say too many things about the plot, because I didn’t know much about it when I read it and I think that helped me to enjoy it. Selasi has created a classic dysfunctional family, which is my number one favourite literary trope; having moved from Ghana to Boston, Kweku Sai and his wife, Fola, raise their four children in comfort until Kweku suffers a professional injustice and abandons his family. It’s a decision that impacts on each of them, and from which the family never truly recovers. Selasi begins the novel with Kweku back in Ghana, before focusing on each of his children and his estranged wife in turn. This, along with the incredibly poetic writing style, makes Ghana Must Go slightly confusing to begin with, but it’s absolutely worth sticking with.
The slow reveal of details about the Sai parents and their children – Olu, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a doctor; twins Taiwo and Kehinde, clearly deeply haunted by something in their past, and “baby” Sadie, forced to serve as Fola’s emotional support after Kweku’s disappearance – kept me utterly intrigued throughout Ghana Must Go. The sometimes dreamlike writing meant that I had to occasionally go back and reread a paragraph to check that I hadn’t missed anything; it’s not a book to skim-read. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the big reveals and was only half-right; Selasi plants clues in really subtle ways, which means the final few chapters are shocking at times, but there are clear pointers earlier on.
Conclusion: Ghana Must Go had been on my TBR list for months, and I’m so pleased I picked it up; it’s a really engaging read and I enjoyed my time with the Sai family. Selasi has crafted them beautifully, making each of them sympathetic without idealising them. I really liked the details about Ghana too, which give the novel such a rich sense of setting. I’ll be looking out for more from Taiye Selasi.
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? As always, I’d love to know if I’ve inspired you to pick it up. Recommendations always gratefully received too.