Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ghana Must Go

Parallel to the poetic voice of Toni Morrison, but not the same, Taiye Selasi has this elegant and poetic way of crafting a literary work into a cinema. Full of vivid imagery, this book was written so beautifully and it's really no other way to describe it. I was highly impressed by 'Ghana Must Go', her debut novel, simply for the richness, the cultural relevance, the drift between contemporary and historical worlds, and the complexities of each character. I was able to really transport to lands I've only dreamed of and encountered people who don't even exist! 

The book opens with the death of renowned surgeon, Kweku Sai. As the story unfolds, it takes into account the life he lead leading up to his death and how his life choices affected the people around him, more specifically his wife and children. The best parts were hidden in the details and not so much the most obvious points in the plot (i.e. his death). Rather than explaining what and how something happened from one point of view, the reader has a chance to delve deep into every misconstrued perception of the main characters. Although the story starts from a point of death, the story unravels with so much life and depth. 

Despite Kweku abandoning his family unannounced, leaving his wife, Folasade to raise 4 young children on her own, the Sai children grew up to be exceptional people, at least on paper: Olu, a married surgeon; the twins, Taiwo, an accomplished attorney, and Kehinde, a world renowned artist; and the baby Sadie, a college scholar. Connected by the success and beauty gene they all seemed to naturally inherit, there were still years worth of personal issues and untold secrets they'd dealt with in silence that kept them distant from one another, for various reasons. The mysteries they failed to communicate made an estranged family unit, but it was so amazing how well they could feel each other, despite the distance-physically and mentally-among them. 

Everyone's reasons for hiding things were apparent to the reader and mysteries to each other. The author, Ms. Selasi, gives an interesting perspective on a host of things that varied with throughout the story, such as loss, abandonment/trust issues, self-esteem, and the concept of family across culture lines.

The death of their father brings them all back together in a way that only tragedy tends to do, back to Ghana where the story started for both parents. It's funny how this book came right around a time where I'm discovering my Ghanaian heritage for the first time well into adulthood, just like the members Sai clan. 

Overall, this was a really great read; a bit long, but an instant and unexpected classic. Books like this have to be read more than once in a lifetime. I look forward to future projects from Taiye Selasi. 

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