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Ghana Must Go

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  9,286 ratings  ·  1,177 reviews
Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the transformative power of un ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Penguin Press
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Peggie It was a struggle. I persevered, got to the end and thought this could have been so much better. I liked the first part the best, was engaged in the s…moreIt was a struggle. I persevered, got to the end and thought this could have been so much better. I liked the first part the best, was engaged in the story but lost the thread as the book went on and on and on.(less)
Anna Clocchiatti Melanie, I don't know! I read it, is ther something you'd like to know about it?
Melanie, I don't know! I read it, is ther something you'd like to know about it?

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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  9,286 ratings  ·  1,177 reviews

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Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Real talk, the first third or so of the book is a damn mess--slow, not fully realized, kind of irritating because it could be better with.... more editing, perhaps, or more care. BUT. The last 2/3 of the book is outstanding and electric. If you are an immigrant or child of immigrants you will feel like this book knows you, down to your bones. And you will know this book, down to its bones. The prose style is original and as raw as it is poetic. The narrative structure is also intriguing. Selasi ...more
Mar 13, 2013 added it
Shelves: africa
"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
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-lit
“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
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
Chad Walker
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jonathan Franzen fans, perhaps
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 take more kindly to Ghana Must Go, a family sag
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
Melanie Greene
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing

You 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
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bechdel-pass
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
what i liked most in this book, what kept me electrified from the first sentence, is the language. i loved the language. wow. poetic passages with not a shred of tiresomeness. originality of vision. beautiful.

in the last third, the story got in the way. truth be told, i was all about kweku. his tragedy, told almost indirectly, through his kids' stories, through the flashbacks he's having as he's dying, is powerful and delicate and so poignant. a brilliant man, an accomplished man, an african li
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
If this novel was used in a word association game, my first words would be Zadie Smith's WHITE TEETH. Both debut novels exhibit raw talent and beauty. Both women handle serious topics such as race, class, gender, ambition, social status with tremendous ease. Both novels, however, are incredibly overwritten, dripping with prose that should have been left on the cutting room floor. I'm thinking here of the description of Kweku's death and how Selasi goes in super slo-mo to describe every detail of ...more
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely terrific. A stunning debut. This is a family tale, told with such realism the prose just sings off the page. She describes one character thusly, "Ama isn't a fighter. She comes to breakfast without weapons and to bed in the evening undressed and unarmed." Damn! This is the kind of writing you will be treated to when you read this novel. The story evolves in a circular manner, which keeps things tense and exciting.

The novel opens with the death of Kweku Sai, a father, husband and reno
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-fic
So often this book read like a long prose poem. This paragraph tells of Olu, the eldest son who has followed in his father's footsteps and become a doctor, sitting in his obsessively white New York bedroom after just learning that his long absent father has died at the age of 57 in Ghana.

"He sits in his scrubs with the shirt in the dark, with the moon making ice of the floor and the walls, and thinks maybe she's right, all this white is oppressive, apathetic; a bedroom shouldn't be an OR. In th
Kima Jones
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it

When I tell you the girl slayed the ending, the girl slayeeeeeeeeeeeed the ending. Part I was superfluous in places, but once you get into Selasi's rhythm, she has you.

A novel built on pacts-- those kept and those broken.

Looking forward to more of Selasi's work in the future.
Cindy McKenzie
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After spending ages at a Waterstones in London, during one of my Me Time trips where I got to wander around freely, I decided on Ghana Must Go. I had come across Ghana Must Go and Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah through links from Myslexia.

At first, I could not get into it -mostly because I could not concentrate at the time. I had to reread the first few pages a few times. It may sound dumb, but I was confused by the cameraman and only understood later on, or I thought I did, when Mr Lamptey sai
Ghana Must Go was a tough read because (1) the author's style is poetic and not always forward-moving, (2) the character focus shifts without warning and it takes time to determine who you're reading about, and (3) it is extremely painful. Despite these challenges, Ghana Must Go moved my soul, which is why I rated it four stars.

Kweku and Folusade Sai are the family patriarch and matriarch. Kweku is a renowned surgeon who was born in Ghana and educated in the US. Once his schooling was complete,
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-uni, owned
“They were doers and thinkers and lovers and seekers and givers, but dreamers, most dangerously of all.
They were dreamer-women.
Very dangerous women.”

What a surprising, enchanting, confusing book. Through highs and lows, birth to burial, we watch a family form and fall to pieces and come together again, disassembled but whole.

Ghana Must Go and high had a rough start. You cannot put commas, semicolons, colons and dashes in a single sentence and not expect me to hold my head in despair. The first c
Marcy prager
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ghana Must Go was pure poetry!!!!! Taiye Selasi portrayed this story by revealing each character's innermost thoughts and feelings, multiple viewpoints, piece by piece, about a family from Africa...

This story begins with Kweku's fatal heart attack in Ghana in his fifties. He is married to Ama, a woman who loves him, wanting nothing from him, demanding nothing. She is content. "He believes he loves Ama because of the symmetry between them, between his capacity for provision and her prerequisites
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jan 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Ultimately, I grew weary of the repetitive storytelling that was still happening 100 pages in. The minute details of the man's death were hardly interesting the first time around.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 0-uk
At the beginning it was a bit a confusing and tough read. It starts with the father/husband of the story that starts thinking about his life and family. It was confusing because his memories aren't in chronological order, they go forth and back and he tells about anecdotes giving for granted that the reader knows about them (going on with the story everything will be clarified so there aren't hanging parts). I needed some time to remember the names of the other characters and to know who they ar ...more
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
I would not have stuck with this book if it weren't a selection of my Primary Source book group. The story itself is a good one. A Ghanian expelled from Nigeria in the "Ghana Must Go" policy finds himself in Boston where he pursues a medical career and raises a family. Yet, he abandons that family to return to Accra years later. His wife sticks it out for awhile, and also returns. The story opens with his death many years later and follows the trails of his wife and 4 highly accomplished but emo ...more
Stephen King
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
There's a lot of short sentences. For dramatic effect. And a lot of people crying. Hugging their knees. Tears. Coursing down their cheeks. Inner pain. Families hurting.

Oh dear. Another reviewer summed this up quite well suggesting that the author is a typical product of US creative writing courses. Americanah is so much better as a narrative of African diaspora dynamics in the US and their struggles with identity
Tolulope Popoola
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it
With all the marketing hype, I was expecting a novel that would blow my mind away. Instead, I struggled to read the first 70% of this book, and only barely scraped through to the end. Sigh.
It's not a bad book. It is a potentially great story, but the writing style ruined it for me. Great idea: terrible execution.
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A brilliantly written book that I would NOT recommend to anyone. I'm totally traums 💔
I want to unread it 😔
Renita D'Silva
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book. Stunning prose. Unique. Exceptional. A masterpiece. One that deserves twenty stars, a hundred. A book in a million. Loved, loved, loved. Very highly recommended.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I have trouble falling into the rhythm of a writer's voice. It takes time, like listening to Shakespeare. At first you struggle to listen (to hear), then all of sudden you've found the cadence and you're reading effortlessly. This book took longer than most. It's not an easy read. There's lots of movement back and forth in time. It's very complex. The writing unusual. The beginning seemed almost a stream of sentences, incomplete sentences, some of it seemed stilt ...more
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ghana Must Go - Sooo elegant and poetic. Beautiful writing. Good storyline too! I had no problem with the circularity of the novel, nor with the going back and forth in time. Very well done. The characters are complex. Imperfect, but I still cared for them and rooted for their survival and growth. The story is sad and there is one absolutely horrible scene that I really could have lived without. The end ties up a bit too neatly, or perhaps I just wanted the book to last longer :) This is a stron ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
1. at first I really liked it. then I liked it a little less. then I ended up liking it again.
2. read this if you're into messy families, inner lives of immigrants and their children in America, non-stereotypical African characters, and fancy writing.
3. there are some triggering topics involved so be warned.
Ayelet Waldman
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The language! It's written in meter! One of my favorites of the year.
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Around the World ...: Discussion for Ghana Must Go 3 52 Jan 17, 2016 01:41PM  
FABClub (Female A...: Ghana Must Go group discussion (Mar '15) 5 28 Apr 04, 2015 06:50AM  
Fiction Lover's B...: * Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi 1 3 Mar 21, 2015 12:26PM  
The F-word: March FICTION selection GHANA MUST GO 2 17 Mar 02, 2015 11:10AM  
I loved this book! 1 8 Jan 03, 2015 10:30AM  
Depressing and troubling but mesmerizing 4 36 Jan 03, 2015 09:38AM  

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Born in London to Nigerian and Ghanaian parents, Taiye Selasi was raised in Massachusetts. She graduated summa cum laude from Yale before returning to England to earn an M.Phil. in International Relations from Oxford. In 2006 Taiye joined the WGAE Screenwriting Lab at Colubmia University, studying under Oscar nominee Zach Sklar (JFK). Sid Ganis will produce her first feature WHITE GIRL, co-written ...more

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“They were doers and thinkers and lovers and seekers and givers, but dreamers, most dangerously of all.
They were dreamer-women.
Very dangerous women.
Who looked at the world through their wide dreamer-eyes and saw it not as it was, "brutal, senseless," etc., but worse, as it might be or might yet become.
So, insatiable women.
Un-pleasable women.”
“He feels a second pang now for the existence of perfection, the stubborn existence of perfection in the most vulnerable of things and in the face of his refusal-logical-admirable refusal-to engage with this existence in his heart, in his mind. For the comfortless logic, the curse of clear sight, no matter which string he pulls on the same wretched knot: (a) the futility of seeing given the fatality in a place such as this where a mother still bloody must bury her newborn, hose off, and go home to pound yam into paste; (b) the persistence of beauty, in fragility of all places!, in a dewdrop at daybreak, a thing that will end, and in moments, and in a garden, and in Ghana, lush Ghana, soft Ghana, verdant Ghana, where fragile things die.” 9 likes
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