2015 Longlist

Ghana Must Go



2015 Longlist

A stunning novel, spanning generations and continents, Ghana Must Go by rising star Taiye Selasi is a tale of family drama and forgiveness, for fans of Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This is the story of a family – of the simple, devastating ways in which families tear themselves apart, and of the incredible lengths to which a family will go to put itself back together.

It is the story of the Sais family, whose good life crumbles in an evening; a Ghanaian father, Kwaku Sai, who becomes a highly respected surgeon in the US only to be disillusioned by a grotesque injustice; his Nigerian wife, Fola, the beautiful homemaker abandoned in his wake; their eldest son, Olu, determined to reconstruct the life his father should have had; their twins, seductive Taiwo and acclaimed artist Kehinde, both brilliant but scarred and flailing; their youngest, Sadie, jealously in love with her celebrity best friend. All of them sent reeling on their disparate paths into the world. Until, one day, tragedy spins the Sais in a new direction.

This is the story of a family: torn apart by lies, reunited by grief. A family absolved, ultimately, by that bitter but most tenuous bond: familial love.

Ghana Must Go interweaves the stories of the Sais in a rich and moving drama of separation and reunion, spanning generations and cultures from West Africa to New England, London, New York and back again. It is a debut novel of blazing originality and startling power by a writer of extraordinary gifts.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Taiye Selasi was born in London and raised in Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale and an MPhil in International Relations from Oxford. The Sex Lives of African Girls (Granta, 2011), Selasi’s fiction debut, appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012. She lives in Rome.

Librarians’ Comments

Ghana Must Go is a powerful, modern, immigrant story in a sweeping narrative style.

Taiye Selasi beautifully illustrates how families can be torn apart by the simplest of things and what people do to come together. Ghana Must Go takes the reader to different cultures and countries and weaves a story that ultimately triumphs the bonds and love of what a family is.

This novel about a cosmopolitan family with African origins has to be read in context of Selasi’s essays on the concept of “Afropolitan”. It shows how a family breaks down under the pressure to succeed. The multiperspective narrative touches the feelings and thoughts of each family member, each one unfortunate in his or her own way, each one’s thoughts and lives circling the absent patriarch and the past.

Selasi writes with a deep emotional investment in the lives of her characters. The topic of the rootlessness of immigrants passed down through  generations is at the same time classic and very current. That also is true for her deep understanding of how our childhood experience of family defines our capacity for love later in life.

Taiye Selasi has produced an impressive debut novel that evokes a profound sense of family with all the love, joy, heartache, longing and pain that tends to accompany families in flux. Ghana Must Go is a story about Africa and immigration; about building a life and a home, wherever you may find yourself. This book deserves praise and consideration for its originality, wisdom and startling power.


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