Title- Ghana Must Go
Author- Taiye Selasi
Year of Publication- 2013
Taiye Selasi’s first is an intriguing story. A tale of a family’s struggle for ‘connection’ after their father left (which is exactly the opposite of what happens when fathers walk away from their family). It is a very captivating story once you can weather the storm of the initial confusion of the book.
The Plot and The Characters
The story centres around the Sai family. An African family in the United States of America. A Ghanaian father and a Nigerian mother with four(4) kids.
The story starts with the death of Kweku (The Akan name for a son born on Wednesday in Ghana), the father of the family. His death was painted by the writer like a perfect way to die, she made a cardiac arrest seem as if it were the most glorious way to go.
As he lay on the floor in the process of dying he reminisced about his life with his family, how his wife dropped out of law school so he could go to medical school, the trouble they had before giving birth to their last child.
The story runs through the cracks in the Sai family after the father walked away without giving any explanation as to why. Olu’s fear of commitment, the twins distant nature and Sadie’s insecurity in herself.
Kweku Sai: a renowned surgeon in America, who made it from terribly humble beginnings in a hut with his mother and siblings in a hut in Ghana. He met is wife Folasade Savage in America and together they built a family of their own. After he loses his job after a surgery led to the almost inevitable death of a older citizen, he walks away from his family giving no reason to his wife. This character is the most intriguing and most important part of the novel seeing as the whole story revolves around his life and death.
Folasade Sai: A Nigerian girl who lost her mother during childbirth and lost her father and maternal grandparents to the Hausa-Ibo clashes in the northern part of Nigeria. She was not not used to losing people. Giving up her education to see her husband finish medical school to become a florist and house wife.
Olukayode Sai: The first child of the Sai’s. A carbon copy of his father, also a surgeon. He continually strive not to be like his father which made him struggle for commitment. Though in a relationship with an Asian woman “Ling” he was always careful not to refer to it as a relationship, always saying she was is “partner”. He was however viewed as the perfect child by his siblings
Taiwo and Kehinde Sai: the twins are the closest of the siblings, which is expected of twins. Kehinde is a well-known artist, and the only one who knows the real reason why their father left and never told anyone because he promised not to. Taiwo a pretty beautiful lady has always resented her mother for sending her twin and herself to Nigeria after their father left, taking many reckless decisions including dating her married lecturer. The writer made the twins have a sort of telepathic connection.
Folasade Sai: the ‘baby’ of the house, and the one who felt like she didn’t belong in the family. She never really knew her father seeing that he left when she was still a baby. She felt she was no match for any of her siblings, the perfect Olu, the Beautiful Taiwo or the Popular Kehinde and she was just Sadie the plain Sadie. She only gained some sense of being part of the family when they went to Ghana for the Kweku’s burial. She was also a lesbian even if the writer didn’t really look like she wanted to touch on that path
I’d just jump into the criticism as it involves the writing style of the writer.
For the first time in my years of reading novels, I’d have loved to see this as a linearly told story. Somehow the transitions from present to past was quite confusing and could make the reader a little lost. A incredibly slow start to the book would also mean that readers who loved to be hit with a bang would be utterly Disappointed with this book.
I agree that a linear story might make the story longer (you can make sequels), but this story just felt like it had way too much in it to be confined to just one novel
This is a great story, the story telling might be flawed it doesn’t take away the fact that the story is a very captivating one.
If you’re a writer, this would give you the feeling that there could have been more, just a little bit more.
‘Fikayo’s Rating : 7.86
Reviewed by- Oyekunle ‘Fikayo Oyediran