Review: Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi

Ghana Must Go
by Taiye Selasi
The Penguin Press
March 5, 2013
336 pgs
$25.95 Hardcover/ $12.99 E-Book
New from The Penguin Press this month, Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go is a semi-exotic and lyrical examination of a family that came apart at the seams long ago. The parents separated, the children scattered and only now, as the patriarch dies, can the family find a way to become whole again.

As the book moves forward, the story of this complicated African-American family pieces itself together, almost like an unraveled sweater weaving itself back into shape. The perspective switches from person to person with each chapter, and the story is often told in a series of flashbacks that relate to and explain the present. Jessica Maria Tuccelli was successful with this particular narrative form in last year's Glow (and Barbara Hamby even more so in Lester Higata's 20th Century) but Selasi is somewhat less so.

The alternating of past and present is sometimes less than smooth and often a little confusing. And while her choice to tell the story from a variety of perspectives is an excellent way to reveal the fractured past, all of the characters seem to be of one voice - the author's. There is no coloring of the glass, as it were, no refocusing of the voice with the change of perspective.

That all said, the same story told from beginning to end in third-person omniscient would be frustratingly boring, so I can't fault Selasi for trying. Her prose is beautiful and her phrasing poetic. Frankly, Selasi's talents might be better-suited for poetry and verse than for novel-writing.


  1. Wow! You have made my day, I got the novel after a lot of bargaining and searching , it didn't live up to expectations. All the Big Names in African literature made such a hullabaloo about it. You are one of the only honest voices in the roar. Thank you so much for this. I blog at www, . We would be honoured to have you.


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