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So what d you reckon, did you fall for the hype on this one Well, yes, to a certain extent I mean with over 100,000 new books being published each year in the UK alone, there s no way to escape the danger of being led down the marketing path really, is there I mean I read some reviews, but they ve all been blinded too, by the celebrity endorsements from Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie, and they can hardly fail to be impressed by the appeal of a strikingly good looking young woman author, i So what d you reckon, did you fall for the hype on this one Well, yes, to a certain extent I mean with over 100,000 new books being published each year in the UK alone, there s no way to escape the danger of being led down the marketing path really, is there I mean I read some reviews, but they ve all been blinded too, by the celebrity endorsements from Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie, and they can hardly fail to be impressed by the appeal of a strikingly good looking young woman author, it makes for an attractive opener on the front page of the review section, doesn t it So yes, once I d seen that amazing portrait of her on the front page of the literature supplement in Die Zeit, wearing a purple quilted coat that on anyone else would have reminded me of a dressing gown, and then read about her, yes, she got lodged in my mind as worth looking out for You re just influenced by her appearance How shallow I don t think I m entirely guiltless there, but it sthe recognizability of the image than the mere fact that she s a looker Because having seen her on the cover of Die Zeit, I then recognized her as the very same when she appeared in the latest Granta 123 The Best of Young British Novelists 4 Actually, I probably only did recognize her again because she was wearing the same quilted coat for the Granta photo shoot Aha the coat it was what done it Yeah, and the gloves did you see those bad ass gloves So I remembered her But I did test out the water before I went for the novel I read her piece Driver in Granta and thought it was terrific, I loved it It startsI am the full time driver here I am not going to kill my employers I have read that drivers do that now I will just make a few observations I mean wow How could anyone resist that That short story plays around with preconceptions and clich s and identity and roles and facades So you fooled yourself into thinking that you d made up your own mind, based on your reading of a short story Without being manipulated Probably, yes Self deception is an under valued art Anyway, guess what happened then What You d never guess this my sister in law gave me Ghana Must Go for my birthday Well, why wouldn t she She knows you like reading Yes, yes, yes, but she s been remarkably inept at selecting thus far either something I didn t want Jodi Picoult, I ask you , or something spot on because I d already read it Even this time round it wasn t quite the thing she gave it to me in German originally I got it changed I mean for goodness sake, why would I want to read a translation of a book that was written in my own language Pfff It can t be easy choosing a book for someone as picky as you True enough You have to admire her determination So to get back to this novel, what do you think, does it stand up to the hype It can t really, can it It never could I mean she s been lauded to the skies, so expectations are far too high And it didn t wow me the way that her short story did So my reactions are probably a bit skewed But there is one major problem with it I mean, please don t get me wrong, it s good, it s probably great, but there s something that doesn t sit right with me You see, basically it s the story of a family And the way I read it, this family is representative I mean it s very clearly flagged that Kweku has no business dying of a heart attack, not at his age, not with his healthy lifestyle, not as a doctor who surely must have read the signs and got help quickly He s dying of a broken heart, not a medical condition His heart has been broken by all the leavings he s done So he stands for the cracked hollowness of a misplaced, displaced, dislocated existence And this pain plays through to the next generation, his four children, each of them disturbed, damaged, in pain Sounds bleak It is Oceans of tears But that s not my problem You see, apart from Kweku s wife, Fola, who remains very shadowy, these characters are lovingly painted, so much so that I began to connect with them as real people Well, isn t that what novels do Isn t that what you want, that emotional connection, that empathy Perhaps, yes But not when the psychology doesn t add up But you said you read it as a novel of ideas, that these are representative figures, not real people with a personal idiosyncratic psychology So surely it shouldn t matter if their motivation sits oddly sometimes Yes, there s the rub D you think it s possible to do both at the same time I mean she works hard to make sure that we don t relax into this novel and let it all wash over us like a warm bath, the action jumps around a lot in time and place, you re asked to stay on your toes, ready to switch and leap and dance, at least at the beginning until the family finally come together for the funeral A cerebral pleasure rather than an emotional one Which is fine But it s a novel You live with these characters for a week or so, they get under your skin But as a real life family it s all a bit much, too even a share out of problems, one major one each, you know Artificial Can it be artificial and real at the same time As I said, you re too picky Yeah, but you have to admire my determination This is how a reader gets the distinct feeling of being ripped off when the publishers are obviously so keen to jump on the publicity bandwagon that they don t bother with a proof read at all How else would you explain the mis spelling of the main character s name in the blurb on the back All through the novel his name is Kweku Sai, the blurb has him Kwaku.Worse page 79 Until this very moment Kweku would have bet money that her younger son couldn t have said where he worked not the name of This is how a reader gets the distinct feeling of being ripped off when the publishers are obviously so keen to jump on the publicity bandwagon that they don t bother with a proof read at all How else would you explain the mis spelling of the main character s name in the blurb on the back All through the novel his name is Kweku Sai, the blurb has him Kwaku.Worse page 79 Until this very moment Kweku would have bet money that her younger son couldn t have said where he worked not the name of the hospital, one of several in the vicinity, nor the location of the entrance hall but here Kehinde was Kweku is the father of Kehinde, that s his son to my way of thinking.A minor gripe I suppose.I find it interesting to note how reviews and interviews, nay even her own website, all stress Ms Selasai s international background born in london raised in boston lives in new york new delhi rome For me it is obvious that her default mode is American She helps the reader out when in Ghana Accra is explained to us outsiders Then hired a taxi to take him to Jamestown the oldest part of Accra and the smelliest by far, a fetid seaside slum of corrugated tin and cardboard shanties in the shadow of the country s former Presidential Palace where, braving the stink re dried sweat, rotting fish , he inquired in rusty Ga about a carpenter But no such help is given when we are in the US Brookline Mis spelling for Brooklyn Ooops, no This was the Colonial she hated, in Brookline, which the man had bought proudly after Sadie was born and though Mom had wanted a townhouse, South End There s noo need to explain No No.Not a gripe, just saying And actually, I didn t like the language It s described as glittering and poetic and all that, but mostly I found it jerky, spiky, prickly, bucking along like a square wheeled wagon The cadences all the same, sentences running on, with piled up short phrases, separated by commas, and then, tripping, stumbling, and often interrupted by parentheses ones that serve to confuse but also to add in layers a couple of choppy sentences at the end Without subject Like this Which can be effective.Sometimes.But not all the time.Sometimes you need a change of pace.This book won t let me go will it The title A Ghana Must Go designates that ubiquitous light plastic carry all bag that is used by immigrants all over the world The name comes from the series of expulsions of mainly Ghanaian nationals from Nigeria especially in the 80s, when illegal immigrants were given nothan two weeks to pack up and leave, hastily packing their possessions into these cheap, lightweight bags.In such a bag, Kweku s slippers are returned to Fola, his first wifeWe did what we knew It was what we knew Leaving Was it We were immigrants Immigrants leave Very impressive debut novel about a Nigerian Ghanaian family who are fragmented when Kweku, the father, is wrongly dismissed from his post as a surgeon in a Massachusetts hospital Too ashamed to admit his predicament to his family he abandons them and moves back to his native land His loyal Nigerian wife Fola and their four children are left to piece together the mystery of his disappearance The novel begins with Kweku dying of a heart attack in his new Ghanaian home To all intents and purpo Very impressive debut novel about a Nigerian Ghanaian family who are fragmented when Kweku, the father, is wrongly dismissed from his post as a surgeon in a Massachusetts hospital Too ashamed to admit his predicament to his family he abandons them and moves back to his native land His loyal Nigerian wife Fola and their four children are left to piece together the mystery of his disappearance The novel begins with Kweku dying of a heart attack in his new Ghanaian home To all intents and purposes he is dying of a broken heart His death will reunite a family which has splintered as a result of his disappearance There s lots of brilliant writing in this novel some overwriting too some clever plotting some over elaboration too and some impressive structuring It offers plenty of insights into the challenges of migration, not least of all the stresses and strains of frequently having to adapt identity I ll definitely be reading her next novel Then Ghana, and the smell of Ghana, a contradiction, a cracked clay pot the smell of dryness, wetness, both, the damp earth and dry of dust The airport Bodies pushing, pulling, shouting, begging, touching, breathing He d forgotten the bodies The proximity of bodies In America the bodies were distant The warmth of it Ghanaian doctor Kweku Sai loses his job in the US, abandons his Nigerian wife and his four children and moves back to Ghana Years later, when Sai dies from a heart attack, h Then Ghana, and the smell of Ghana, a contradiction, a cracked clay pot the smell of dryness, wetness, both, the damp earth and dry of dust The airport Bodies pushing, pulling, shouting, begging, touching, breathing He d forgotten the bodies The proximity of bodies In America the bodies were distant The warmth of it Ghanaian doctor Kweku Sai loses his job in the US, abandons his Nigerian wife and his four children and moves back to Ghana Years later, when Sai dies from a heart attack, his family, who have not been in regular contact in the previous several years, go back home to Ghana for the funeral The rest of the story outlines what they had to deal with after their father left.I found this book so tragic The entire family was hurt in one way or another by Sai s abandonment, as their personal stories show One scene in particular was truly awful and I had to skip over the majority Selasi is a wonderful writer and this is such a great debut Her writing is very beautiful and lyrical, though there were some instances where I wasn t sure who was speaking as the point of view changed so abruptly Sometimes she interrupts her straight forward prose with something like this Taiwo pursed her lips to mute her revulsion, but what she felt next had no shape and no sound An odd emptiness, weightlessness, as if she were floating, as if for a moment she d ceased to exist some new odd sort of sadness, part grief, part compassion, a helium sadness, too airless to bear I like the fact that Selasi wrote a story about the African diaspora I think it s still a relatively new concept in African literature I read somewhere that Selasi coined the term Afropolitan to describe Africans in the diaspora, and I hope to seeAfropolitan literature in the future Philip Hensher encapsulated it in his Spectator review of the Granta Best Young British Novelists, of whom Selasi is one bog standard products of the American creative writing machine present tense narratives introducing western readers to exotic places, with a surface conventional lyricism and a glossary explaining how to pronounce Lagos.Those who don t share this jaded, cynical sense of a generic litfic creative writing course MFA style may takekindly to Ghana Must Go, a family sag Philip Hensher encapsulated it in his Spectator review of the Granta Best Young British Novelists, of whom Selasi is one bog standard products of the American creative writing machine present tense narratives introducing western readers to exotic places, with a surface conventional lyricism and a glossary explaining how to pronounce Lagos.Those who don t share this jaded, cynical sense of a generic litfic creative writing course MFA style may takekindly to Ghana Must Go, a family saga that mixes Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith s On Beauty and a bitAfrica for good measure I m not saying that there aren t some lovely metaphors and descriptions here, bits of alliterative wordplay I liked, moments that pull at the heart, occasionally with personal resonance but it was easy to forget them when wading through paragraphs of that standard, over serious poetic stuff I found most of the scenes in West Africainteresting, anything which provided a sense of a culture I don t know well, but chiefly this is an American book another moderately fucked up upscale intellectual family over a few decades One of today s favoured templates just as Austen s three or four families in a country village once was It s possible to imagine being quite impressed with this book in a different context she was the best writer in our year but set alongside the amount of hype it s received, nope I think the hype simply shows how much attention you can get for your okay first novel if you went to Harvard AND Oxford AND have the right media friendly personality and opinions AND have already worked in the industry Looking like a supermodel rarely does any harm either The publishers could have donewith editing and to encourage rewriting To some, surely they would have said this is promising, but come back to us with your next novel instead I don t require fast paced books but in the first 200 pages Ghana Must Go actually became repetitive and tedious Moments of Kweku s, the father s, death are slowed down like time lapse photography and supplied every few pages between flashbacks to various parts of his past life and his family s then in Part II the same happens with the moments people find out he has died Described this way I like the approach, but as it is in the book, it doesn t work very well it s too drawn out and even sometimes disorganised It s a structure perhaps better suited to film Selasi has also worked in TV and screenwriting The characters, as they each first appear, have believable essences that make them seem somehowreal than the book, Kweku being the best drawn But as the story wears on there are a lot of details and responses that don t fit together psychologically, that feel like the work of a writer who s either very young and sheltered or isn t a briliant observer of a really wide range of people and also doesn t know much psychology in depth, just taking bits and pieces from the media Many of the best writers, including those from hundreds of years before anything specifically about psychology was written down, can transmit a sense of three dimensional people who possess attachment styles and schemas of relating and reacting based on their experiences, show clearly how these were formed in their early lives and how they were affected later Selasi s characters aren t entirely without psychological depth, it sthat there are collage like instances of that happened to them therefore they do this but often without setting it in the wider context of the person s earlier experiences and therefore certain things just do not compute And as this is not a great novel, and also a first novel from someone with what appears to be a very privileged background this might be a cheap shot the inclusion of a particular serious issue that s quite common in recent fiction, films etc seems somewhat exploitative view spoiler By which I mean the abusive uncle and the forced incest There s such an awful lot of this sort of thing in fiction currently that it does start to seem tacky and exploitative unless the writer honestly needs to include it for personal reasons Or unless it s the sort of pulp in which you don t expect any better However, we shouldn t expect authors to make personal disclosures about traumatic experiences unless they want to anyway hide spoiler Perhaps Selasi won t change her modern international family saga subject matter or her writing style a great deal, but I m sure she ll polish the latter somewhat Her next book it s not like there isn t going to be one, is it will surely be better though it probably won t be quite my sort of thing, so I won t read it unless I m repeating this present game of reading stuff likely to be nominated for awards And in any case like Franzen she s still interesting as a pundit regardless of the novels About 10 years ago, I spent 3 4 months teaching English in a tiny Ghanaian village electricity only in two or three houses, no running water in the heart of the Ashanti region I realize that a this does not make me an expert on Ghana, and b is not a particularly unique experience however, it does mean that I have a very soft spot in my heart for Ghana After reading the blurb on this, and reading about the author s backstory after seeing her short story in last year s Best American, I was About 10 years ago, I spent 3 4 months teaching English in a tiny Ghanaian village electricity only in two or three houses, no running water in the heart of the Ashanti region I realize that a this does not make me an expert on Ghana, and b is not a particularly unique experience however, it does mean that I have a very soft spot in my heart for Ghana After reading the blurb on this, and reading about the author s backstory after seeing her short story in last year s Best American, I was excited to dig into this one.Honestly, I finished it a few days ago, and I ve been struggling with what I thought about it For about the first 50 pages, I vacillated a lot in my opinion of Selasi s writing stylistically speaking It s very impressionistic, very poetic, and has a lot of beautiful sentences, but I also thought she had quite a few annoying tics the one word paragraph, the redundant proliferation of several phrases to describe one thing when one would do just as nicely, etc and that it was in need of an editor by about half Also, for a novel that is primarily about how a family breaks apart over time and their struggles to come back together , and in which very little in the present time actually happens, I thought some of the backstory seemed a little farfetched and overly melodramatic especially the storyline with the twins not that it couldn t happen, but couldn t something a little less over the top have happened to drive them apart The sensational nature of what happened to the twins made it difficult for me to stay with them as real characters rather than caricatures, so than I did with the moments between Sadie and Fola, Kehinde and Kweku, or Olu and all of them.But and it s a big one I m giving it four stars Because my two most important reading criteria are 1 I feel genuinely moved by the time I finish a piece, and 2 it stays with me after I close the book It might be a little early to tell for 2, but I haven t stopped thinking it over since I finished it And as for the 1st one, I will say that Selasi has a tremendous ability despite the narrative tics that got to me here and there to render very real, very nuanced characters She is great with details, with dialogue, and with pacing, and very subtly handled what was a rather complicated chronological approach in this novel By the time I finished the book, I cared very, very deeply about the Sai family, and hoped for the best for them, despite their faults I ll be excited to read whatever Selasi puts out next, but for now I m glad she s been getting a lot of attention for this one |Download Book ⚖ Ghana Must Go ⚐ 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 togetherIt is the story of one family, the Sais, whose good life crumbles in an evening a Ghanaian father, Kweku 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 directionThis 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 loveGhana 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 Ghana Must Go is both a fast moving story of one family s fortunes and an ecstatic exploration of the inner lives of its members With her perfectly pitched prose and flawless technique, Selasi does than merely renew our sense of the African novel she renews our sense of the novel, period An astonishing debut Teju Cole, author of Open CityTaiye Selasi was born in London and raised in Massachusetts She holds a BA in American Studies from Yale and an MPhil in International Relations from Oxford The Sex Lives of African Girls Granta,, Selasi s fiction debut, appears in Best American Short StoriesShe lives in Rome Much as I resisted it to start with, I ended up loving this beautiful novel about a complex African American family full of secrets, estrangements, and shifting alliances Despite their disparate settings, the storyline reminded me most of Maggie O Farrell s Instructions for a Heatwave.With its wise commentary on race and class in America, it also brought to mind one of my absolute favorites, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, whom I think Selasi is destined to join in the top rank of contemporary author Much as I resisted it to start with, I ended up loving this beautiful novel about a complex African American family full of secrets, estrangements, and shifting alliances Despite their disparate settings, the storyline reminded me most of Maggie O Farrell s Instructions for a Heatwave.With its wise commentary on race and class in America, it also brought to mind one of my absolute favorites, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, whom I think Selasi is destined to join in the top rank of contemporary authors I particularly loved this aside on what it means to be black authentic blackness as far as Sadie s concerned, confuses identity and musical preference So now back to explain why I struggled through the first 60 or so pages, thinking I was aiming at a two star review The writing takes some getting used to Here s an example of Selasi s short and often incomplete sentences An hour outside of the city the ocean.Unannounced, unambitious.Just suddenly there Along with that somewhat clipped phrasing, you ll also have to become accustomed to some repetition and cyclical chronology it takes about 70 pages for a central character to die, despite the fact that the very first sentence announces the death The event is also mythologized in a way that highly irritated me to start with Who does she think she is Salman Rushdie I kept grumbling to myself, especially after a few minor hints of magic realism heartbreak described literally the mother sensing which one of her children is in trouble based on which quadrant of her belly twinges The persistent wordplay, including rogue capitalization and hyphenation, also felt a bit too clever I kept thinking that, although impressive, the book was overwritten.Here s the thing, though Selasi is so talented she completely gets away with all of it She has the confidence to expand the few days between a death and a funeral into a decades long family saga, rife with betrayal and shame She brazenly reverses a saying through sections headed Gone Going Go She keeps piling on the big shockers a secret marriage, a murder, eating disorders, wrongful dismissal from work, affairs, divorce, and incest sexual abuse without once resorting to melodrama She even has the audacity to continue presenting characters behavior through the viewfinder of an imaginary cameraman now that I loved And she immerses you completely in her settings, whether the backseat of a New York taxi, the dusty streets of Ghana and Nigeria, or a dorm bathroom.Although I probably prefer Zadie Smith s writing on balance, I ll be eager to see what Selasi comes out with next guys I literally like, actually, physically, inexplicably had to stop myself from taking a bite of this book My desire to devour it, to internalize it and at the same time, to curl up in it and be surrounded by it, was that strong So, Kweku, the father of four, brilliant surgeon, loving husband, and then none of those things, abandoning the roles without actually leaving them behind in his heart Sixteen years after he left Boston and his fami guys I literally like, actually, physically, inexplicably had to stop myself from taking a bite of this book My desire to devour it, to internalize it and at the same time, to curl up in it and be surrounded by it, was that strong So, Kweku, the father of four, brilliant surgeon, loving husband, and then none of those things, abandoning the roles without actually leaving them behind in his heart Sixteen years after he left Boston and his family behind, he dies suddenly, leaving his ex wife and children with too many things unsaid They have continents of mis and non communication within them, for a group that started out so solidly as a nuclear family but Kweku s leaving burned deep scars into them all.But, whatever A plot device this long delayed bringing back together of once close family members, complete with sad revelations and falling into old patterns and tears and tears and joinings It s good stuff, undoubtedly, and Selasi balances each of the five survivors with delicacy, weaving their stories just tightly enough to hold while still seeing their individual, lovely shades.The magic is in the writing Follow the ways color attuned and monochromatic sensibilities speak about each character Delve into the truths about identity and self perception and heritage Admire the use of dialogue and the silences within dialogue See the emotions transparent in the empathic guts of the Sai family Discover the terrifying beauty of Selasi s writing, and after you ve read it and re read it, come back and tell me how damn right I am But if it s a library book, don t actually chew on the novel It s bad form It s not you, Taiye, it s me.I don t know why I feel like none of the characters have enough of a personality to seem human, despite being well stocked with anguished personal histories and appropriate mixes of generic and unique traits except Olu s Asian American wife Ling, who seems particularly ill served Her politely racist father, direct from central casting, is at least spared the indignity of being thought cute But perhaps the viewpoint shifting and relentless interiority sets the ba It s not you, Taiye, it s me.I don t know why I feel like none of the characters have enough of a personality to seem human, despite being well stocked with anguished personal histories and appropriate mixes of generic and unique traits except Olu s Asian American wife Ling, who seems particularly ill served Her politely racist father, direct from central casting, is at least spared the indignity of being thought cute But perhaps the viewpoint shifting and relentless interiority sets the bar impossibly high With all these deepest darkest hearts on display, Selasi is up against the problem of only having one heart But it s me, it s my fault When Sadie flares up at her mother I m disgusted and confused Selasi s explanation of her resentment adds up, but it doesn t feel right to me Fola, the mother, is adorable morally faultless , her thoughts poetically rendered, but still seems to sleepwalk Kweku, the father, gifted with the most story space to express himself, is generally similarly somnolent The elder son Olu, for all his inept emoting, lacks substance Taiwo and Kehinde, damaged, knitted into each other, are the only characters that seem to really live It s also mostly my fault that I struggled with what felt like gender normativity, mostly Take Ama, Kweku s second wife, described by Olu as a village idiot and by the magic yogi carpenter character as used to being told what to do , by Kweku as capable of being satisfied and also, conclusively, as a genius Selasi thus makes the case for her, through Kweku and later Fola, as unfairly judged, but crucially doesn t give her a voice she has no right of reply, no subject position Maybe it s a good tactic though to make the reader do the work I could really have done without the enormous excess of physical descriptions especially the constant judgemental equivocal adjectives like beautiful and pretty and I would have been much happier to do without any of the sex scenes My fault And the abuse I always wish these scenes were offstage.It s my fault that I wanted a different book when this one was perfectly good People and relationships are mashed up, injured by institutional racism and racism induced inferiority complexes I ineptly fill in the gaps as to why Fola, perhaps because she is African, seemingly hasn t prepared her children well to cope with anti blackness in America Poverty happens with consequences, but lacks its taste In general the Sais move freely through the world unhindered by monetary obstacles Staff near silently assist them There is nuance, but the people change painfully, while the structures that hurt them slumber in place There is sense of place, aesthetic not political, not communal.Honestly it s well constructed and beautifully written and all And I enjoyed reading it, on the whole I just couldn t fall in love