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on 10 September 2013
This novel was chosen by my book group, and I was quite intrigued to be introduced to a new writer. The start of the story is original, introducing us to the characters and situation through the internal dialogue of someone whose fate we already know from the first line. The rest of the book presents the disturbing story of this rootless exiled African family through the points of view of the mother and the four children. These multiple points of view were the source of my confusion as I worked my way through. Maybe it was me, but at times I lost track of where we were, when the narrative was happening (it moves forward and back in time as much is based on the memories of characters, how they experienced key events), and even who we were. The author writes in an original style. Lots of sentences without verbs. Quite a few cliches popping up in the story. But overall a worthwhile read about family, love, loss and coming to terms.
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on 8 June 2016
I couldn’t get on with this book group pick. The writing is so self-conscious it gets in the way of itself. Everything is endlessly, repetitiously explained, with ‘poetic’ expansiveness. And the story? Well, the first sentence starts, ‘Kweku dies barefoot on a Sunday before sunrise...’ By page 30 he still hasn’t died, only reminisced as he stands dying, and I have begun to wish him dead! Looking ahead, I find he finally succumbs on page 92. My own remaining life is too short for this, so I’ve stopped reading, and I’m headed, with guilty relief, for my next Elmore Leonard :-)
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on 9 June 2013
Selasi has developed her own style of writing - short sentences, many of which are incomplete on their own, like brushstrokes. It means you have to read quite fast so that you can see the picture they are painting. In the beginning I found it quite patronising, and as I was reading slowly at the time I found it hard to feel engaged. After about a third the story picks up and I began to read faster and suddenly all of the staccato sentences began to form beautiful images and ideas. Which is fitting as Selasi appears to be very concerned about looks - she spends a lot of time talking about how beautiful the characters are - or how not beautiful other characters are/feel. There are lots of emotions, pretty descriptions and at the heart of it an intriguing and touching story. At times it felt a little staged at other times it was really astute. I loved the scene where Olu goes back to Ghana to meet his father who he has built up in his head so much, only to find an ordinary looking man in the throng of people at the arrival gates - no longer sticking out for his blue-black skin as he had done in America.

Overall I have just come out of a long phase of not reading and this book helped to bring me out. I think there is much to enjoy in this book and recommend it highly.
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on 18 September 2013
I very much enjoyed the opening section of the book describing simply, memorably, and indeed perhaps unforgettably, the death of Kweko, how it comes about, how it could have been avoided, what his reflections are on his life in the present, in Ghana, and the layout of his house and garden and the story of its construction, and so on.

Then the rest of the book goes in, much more, to his back story, the various traumatic episodes that have created a dysfunctional (but not terminally dysfunctional) family, and the aftermath of Kweko's death as his first wife and his four children come together in Ghana to mourn his death.

At that point I started to feel I did not really believe people mostly behave as they do in this plot; and that anyway what a family it is to have such extremely brilliant children one and all, to have such a brilliant father, to have dizygotic girl and boy twins who have the exceptional bonds that are sometimes thought to exist for monozygotic twins, and so on...At the end of the book Kweko's first wife ponders why she and Kweko have behaved as they did. It clearly has something to do, she thinks, with 'Ghana must go', a scheme that led to the expulsion of Ghanaians from Nigeria...not really an explanation I found very convincing.

So I had very mixed feelings about this, torn between its beauty and its observation on the one hand, and its rather unsatisfying underlying narrative plot, on the other....Others may - and many clearly do - feel very differently about this..
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on 19 April 2013
A beautifully written novel that so vividly captures the orchestrated complexity of human relationships. I have laughed and cried with the Sai family and now, at the book's end, feel I've finished a long conversation with a dear friend.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 March 2013
Beautifully written. A lovely story, sad and bittersweet, with a shock when you discover what the past has been hiding. Loved the way the past and present dovetailed (though sometimes it took a while to work out which character was speaking each section).
Definitely an author to watch, a magnificently accomplished debut.
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on 15 June 2016
I'm currently finding difficult to get into this book. I've tried several times. I'm sure eventually I will read it but at the moment there's nothing gripping my attention. I will review again when I eventually finish it
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on 29 April 2013
i was keen to read a copy of this book as has read a lot of press reviews and author interviews before publication. it was a slow start and i have to say that at times i was tempted to leave the book and not finish it. Bu am glad that i persevered as the story does pick up about a third of the way through the book and as all the characters started coming together in the book, made for a much more interested book to read.
So i would say if you have been reading the various press reviews/seen the author being interviewed and are intrigues by the reviews - give it a go. you will be pleasantly surprised.
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on 10 April 2013
Initially I found this book slow to get going. This is a story that uses poetic language to examine life and death, beauty and ugliness. I was expecting a faster narrative, rather than a character study. However, once I had adjusted to the style of the writing, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Selasi drifts between characters, drifting back and forth throughout their lives to build up a picture of a broken family, and how they came to this point.

I loved how her descriptions access all the senses, dragging me into each scenario in Boston, New York, Nigeria and Ghana. I also really enjoyed the poetic language, which suited the atmosphere of loneliness which engulfed each character. I was challenged by Selasi's ability to describe ugliness in such a beautiful way, and to find the pain and torment within beauty.

I really enjoyed this book, primarily for her writing style, however it is a book to savour and spend time engulfed in, so if you are looking for a fast-paced narrative this is not the book for you. However, if you want to become submerged in the characters lives and enjoy rich descriptions then I definitely recommend 'Ghana Must Go'.
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This intense and powerful family drama tells of the Sai family, half Nigerian, half Ghanaian, whose lives fall apart when the father Kweku, a respected surgeon in the US, is accused of malpractice and abandons his family. The repercussions of this reverberate through the years and tear the family apart. When news of his death reaches his wife and four children, they come together to re-establish the links between them, to look back at and try to make sense of what has happened to them and to attempt, if possible, to piece the family back together.
Original and beautifully crafted, I found this a moving and haunting novel of family love, with acute psychological insight and observation. The writing is lyrical and poetic, and in fact often reads like poetry with its rhythms and language. I found myself reading some of the passages out loud as if it were indeed a work of poetry not prose. Perhaps sometime the writing does become a little over-blown, and some of the images and descriptions seem to strive too much for effect, with echoes of Toni Morrison's more purple passages, but overall this is a very minor quibble. I was completely caught up in the characters, all of whom I found credible and sympathetic, and the sense of place in both the US and especially in Africa was both atmospheric and vividly drawn. Immigration and what it means to be African both in Africa and in the diaspora is sensitively and compellingly portrayed. It's an absorbing and haunting novel and one which I very much enjoyed.
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