I’m quite embarrassed as to my initial nonchalance when it came to reading “Ghana Must Go”, but I’m going to blame Twitter and general mass media for this. Why, I hear you ask. Well because the ill-timed debut of this awesome book coincided with that of the over publicised and highly anticipated “Americanah” of the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie realm.
Taiye Selasi honestly drew the short straw when it came to the release date of her debut novel, but I believe she ultimately had the last laugh…one of those whooping, belly laughs that gets everyone going even though they have no idea why. Without getting into the semantics of which-books-better-than-which debate, let me just state for the record that “Ghana Must Go” may have initially been the underdog of the two debutante novels poised to make their grand entrance into the literary world, but in my humble opinion, was the book that walked away with the crown…bouquet…and more than half the audience.
So yes, I’m ashamed to admit that the only reason I came to read this book this year was because it was the selected book choice for my monthly book-club session. I actually groaned out loud and may have rolled an eyeball or two when I saw that it had been selected. The phrase ‘how predictable’ may have even crossed my mind. However, like the devoted book-club member that I am I hunkered down and gave it my undivided attention.
“Ghana Must Go” is a tale that tackles so many topics; the obvious story-line revolves around the theme of abandonment. Selasi does an amazing job of providing varying insight into each of the five characters ‘left behind’ so to speak. Her delicate and detailed sensitivity into how each member of the Sai family handles the oh-so sudden departure of Kweku Sai so differently will resonate with any reader who’s ever found themselves in the unfortunate position of coping with the fall-out from betrayal and desertion. Selasi beautifully captures the varied nature of human coping mechanisms in the face of defeat and despair – keep your Kleenex on-hand.
The other themes that are beautifully laced into this narrative are those of identity – trying to reconcile one’s self with the land of thy heritage, sibling dynamics – the waves of intimacy and distance that are inescapable amongst all siblings, survival – the adaptation of self in a bid to overcome the worst of circumstances, expectation – the raging battle between doing what is expected versus personal aspirations and grief – coping with the disappointment and confusion that comes with the end of a chapter in one’s life.
Although it gets off to a pretty slow start, this book will demand your attention and call upon the full spectrum of your emotions. Whether you find yourself bemused at the description of the 70 year old gardener in possession of an impressive six-pack (yes, of the ab variety), enraged at the treatment of the twins, empathetic at the ‘crisis of self’ being experienced by sweet Sadie or angry at the cowardice exhibited by Kweku – this is not a book that can be read passively.
Your laughter will come out in cackles, you will you find yourself berating some of the characters out loud (to the irritation of your neighbours and loved ones) and you will most definitely cry – whether it is tears of the polite variety or those of the heaving shoulder action category instead.
So if you haven’t already done so, get your hands on a copy of Taiye Selasi’s ridiculously impressive inaugural novel “Ghana Must Go” and prepare to give it a standing ‘literary’ ovation.
Editor’s Comment: This year it is hard to mention Ghana Must Go and not mention Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie which also came out this year. The two books though totally different in subject matter and way of writing are pitched against each other. Twist my arm to choose and I will forever say Ghana Must Go – yes it was very slow to start with, but somehow I still literally shed tears reading it – books that cause me to cry are forever etched in my memory and marked as ‘Great Books’. Americanah on the other hand BORED me! However, this about Ghana Must Go – please let us know what you thought about Ghana Must Go.
We also have a #ChaudBookClub on Twitter – all Twitter based and we have just finised reading We Need New Names – so follow us on twitter to know our thoughts. Got any books you would like us reading? Then once more follow us or use the hashtag #ChaudBookClub and we will check it out!
You can purchase : Ghana Must Go here
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