Monday April 1, 2013
Newcomer Taiye Selasi read from and discussed her new novel, Ghana Must Go, about a family reunited after the death of their father.
Taiye Selasi made her literary debut in Granta with “The Sex Lives of African Girls,” which the New York Times called a “standout piece of fiction.” Time Out New York wrote that Selasi’s “prose glitters with beautiful, splintered poetry.” Her exquisite novel, Ghana Must Go (The Penguin Press; March 5, 2013), to be published in 13 countries, is one of the most eagerly anticipated novels of the year.
Stirring and unforgettable, Ghana Must Go opens with the death of Kwaku Sai in his home in Ghana, and traces the saga of his shattered family as news of his death sends a ripple around the world, bringing them all together. Abandoned by Kwako many years ago, they gather in Ghana, at their mother, Fola’s, new home. Eldest son Olu – like his father an accomplished surgeon – arrives with his new wife, along with the mysterious, beautiful twins, Taiwo and Kehinde, and Sadie, the youngest. What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they fell apart.
Selasi moves fluidly across time and place as she shows us Kwaku and Fola as young lovers and parents. Born in Ghana and Nigeria, rooted in and shaped by the cultures and crises of those two places, they meet in the United States, where they have come to build a new life. For a time it seems they have outrun their troubled past, but the life and world they’ve built for themselves disintegrates when Kwaku leaves. His departure unleashes a series of unimaginable betrayals that leaves the family splintered—each seemingly alone in their own pain, and mourning their heavy loss. It is Kwaku’s death that offers them at last a way forward. It is in Ghana where a new family begins to emerge.
Selasi is a remarkably gifted writer with a powerful, elegant, and stirring new voice. Ghana Must Go is a rare and beautifully rendered story of the importance of where we come from and our obligations to one another. In a sweeping narrative Selasi teaches us that family is universal and that the stories we share can open the door to a new future.