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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ghana Must Go

Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go (Gone, Going, Go) is riveting.
The first part is titled “Gone.” It opens with a man dying and a question is where are his slippers. Slippers become an important metaphor is this liltingly written novel. Our feet, our children. Our love of feet and love of children could be the same word. The story is about Kweku Sai. Selasi meanders between here and then as she majestically spins this tale. Birth and death intermingle here as they do in life. A curious character is the cameraman, that thing we all have and is always present for Kweku as he lives and then dies. We are experiencing that moment when a life passes in front of his eyes before death. It is not chronological.
The second part titled “Going” reflects on the children’s reaction to their father’s death. They are all estranged from the father after he walked out on them after being fired from his job as a doctor in Boston. He has moved to Ghana and they are going to Ghana for his funeral. The father did the heavy lifting of establishing the family so that the children could enjoy a first class education at schools like Milton Academy, Yale, Harvard, Columbia.  I’m reminded of Zadie Smith’s On Beauty as I read this second part.
The third and final part, “Go” finds all the children and Ling, Olu’s wife in Ghana at Fola’s house. Why she is in Ghana, since she is Nigerian, is the overarching question. They have gathered for Kweku’s funeral. Musical beds, details about family, and a general rebonding of family happens in this part. 
Selasi has a very haiku like or staccato type of writing style. At times we are assaulted with pages of this barrage of words, not sentences. Then she settles into soothing sentences and even dialogue. The tension of the family is reflected in the tension of the language. It is a draining book and well worth the energy it saps from the reader.

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