Book Review – Ghana Must Go


Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

Publisher: Penguin Books

Release Date: January 2nd, 2014

Genre: Literary Fiction

Format: Paperback

Length: 318

Source: Bought

Find It: Jumia

Meet the Sais, a Nigerian-Ghanaian family living in the United States. A family prospering until the day father and surgeon Kweku Sai is victim of a grave injustice. Ashamed, he abandons his beautiful wife Fola and their little boys and girls, causing the family to fracture and spiral out into the world – New York, London, West Africa, New England – on uncertain, troubled journeys until, many years later, tragedy unites them. Now this broken family has a chance to heal – but can the Sais take it?

My Thoughts

Meet the Sai’s: A Ghanaian/Nigerian American immigrant family that could have been great.

The stage was set, the props were in place, everyone was playing their part to perfection. Kweku, the father, brilliant surgeon, the provider. Fola, the mother, resourceful homemaker, the nurturer. Olu, Taiwo & Kehinde, Sadie, the children, academically exceptional with varying degrees of talent.

This family was building a legacy… Until shit, also known as life happens.

Many people who have read this novel are quick to say the first few chapters were painful to read. Even Roxane Gay didn’t mince her words on this:


Thankfully I did not read these reviews before I picked up “Ghana Must Go” and I was able to come to it with zero expectations. I have to say I can’t see what the issue is because I fell in love the writing from the very first sentence:

“Kweku dies barefoot on a Sunday before sunrise, his slippers by the doorway to the bedroom like dogs.”

My first contact with Taiye Selasi was less than stellar, her TEDx talk, but her writing in “Ghana Must Go” is a whole different thing.


It’s that simple. I don’t know poetry or art but Taiye Selasi’s writing felt like those things, like music… I love how effortlessly she takes us back and forth through time, how you could name a new character based on the memory of a previous character.

The first chapter takes us through the last minutes of Kweku Sai’s life while taking us through the events that brought him to that point. A healthy young man, only 53, exceptional surgeon dying in the most ordinary way, alone and full of regrets.

Kweku’s choices fractured his family and left his wife, Folake, and 4 children in distress and with no hope of closure.

The main characters in this “Ghana Must Go” are many things but simple or normal would be the wrong words to use here. The layers of complexity within each of them and their relationships with each other is thought-provoking. A lot of the dynamics between the siblings are familiar to anyone with siblings but there’s also a spiritual element to the relationships here.

These and more is what makes “Ghana Must Go” brilliant.

Overall Reaction

“Ghana Must Go” is not light reading. I would not recommend it if you’re looking for a fun read. This book will give you all the feels, make you cringe, get mad at humanity, want to punch something… You get the gist.

I’ll agree it’s not for everyone but if you do decide to give it a try, I promise you’ll get it and love it in the end.


“So, the women he’s loved. Who knew nothing of satisfaction. Who having gotten what they wanted always promptly wanted more. Not greedy. Never greedy… They were doers and thinkers and lovers and seekers and givers, but dreamers, most dangerously of all.

They were dreamer-women.

Very dangerous women.

Who looked at the world through their wide dreamer-eyes and saw it not as it was, “brutal, senseless,” etc., but worse, as it might be or might yet become.

So, insatiable women.

Un-pleasable women.

Who wanted above all things that could not be had. Not what THEY could not have–no such thing for such women–but what wasn’t there to be had in the first place.” 

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1 Comment

  1. Adebiyi – You make me want to go back and read this book. I read Ghana Must Go! when it first came out. I loved it: I thought it was a painful story beautifully written. I’m glad you were able to read it without other having other reviewers thoughts in your head?.