Feature

Novel of the week: Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

The promise of Taiye Selasi’s debut novel is evident from its first sentence.

(Penguin, $26)

The promise of Taiye Selasi’s debut novel is evident from its first sentence, said Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal. In a line with a “springy” meter and an “invigorating mixture of darkness and drollery,” we learn about a death in Ghana that will set the whole story spinning. As Selasi pulls back to show the deceased’s history as an immigrant surgeon in Boston and the fractured family he left behind, every page that follows the book’s auspicious opening “displays the same bounce and animation.” Well, not every page, said Nell Freudenberger in The New York Times. As lively as its prose can be, Ghana Must Go reads as if it was rushed into print “before it was ready.” Overwrought prose and story inconsistencies abound. Still, Selasi captures elegantly “the ways people grow apart,” said Melissa Maerz in Entertainment Weekly. She’s created a Ghanaian family whose members are living, breathing people, not symbols. “If the Sais are haunted by history, it’s not Africa’s—it’s their own.”

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