Tag-Archive for ◊ Taiye Selasi ◊

Author:
• Saturday, October 01st, 2016

Taiye Selasi was born in London in 1979 and raised in the USA. Her Nigerian mother, currently living in Ghana, was born in England but raised in Nigeria. Her Ghanian father was born in the British colony of Gold Coast, grew-up in Ghana and now lives in Saudi Arabia.

She was brought up in Brookline, Massachusetts, the elder of twin daughters in a family of physicians: her mother is a paediatrician, her father a surgeon and her twin sister a physiatrist. Tayie obtained her BA degree in American Studies with great honour from Yale University and received an MPhil in International Relations from Oxford University.

To date Taiye Selasi has written four short stories and one novel: “Ghana Must Go” in 2013, which was a big success, has been translated to several languages and made into a film. The novel title refers to the Nigerian phrase directed at the Ghanaian refugees coming in numbers during the 1980s political turmoil in their country. In 1969 a similar situation occurred but in reverse. Due to economic depression, Ghana expelled the Nigerians working on its territory.

Taiye Selasi lives in Rome. She is a writer and a photographer.

The story of Ghana Must Go is divided into three parts: “Gone”, “Going” and “Go”. It begins with the death of the fifty-seven-year old protagonist, Kweku Sai, in his garden in Accra, Ghana, as a result of a heart attack. His second wife, the undemanding, placid Ama, is sleeping nearby unaware that her husband is dying.

Before taking his last breath and while stretched on the grass, flashbacks of Kweku’s early life surge like waves. He is full of remorse for having been a failure as a surgeon, a husband and a father and to have gone back to his native Ghana, abandoning his wife and four children in the USA several years earlier and hiding the fact from them about a wrongful and outrageously unjust dismissal from Boston hospital.

Kweku feels the loss of his pride after losing his job, despite being a skilled surgeon, as a result of betrayal by his superiors and other doctors who privately agreed that it would have been impossible to save the old lady anyway. He realises that outstanding skill doesn’t transcend race. For that reason he is used as a scapegoat in order to please and appease the hospital’s wealthy white benefactors who demanded that someone take the blame and face the consequences of “the failed surgical intervention” which led to the death of the old frail lady during her heart operation.

Kweku, the family patriarch, abandons his Nigerian wife, Folasadé Savage, to fend for herself, unaware of the implications of his irrational decision on the family. He is leaving his broken-hearted wife who once had a promising career as a law student and had to give up her studies and sell flowers in order to support her husband’s career and raise their four children: Olu, the eldest son, the twins, Taiwo and Kehinde, and the last born, Sadie.

The mother is distraught, unable to cope on her own and due to Kweku’s betrayal, the whole family is dispersed across continents with each member trying to find himself and his own path.

Olu becomes an orthopaedic surgeon and marries Ling, the Chinese-American specialised in gynaecology and obstetrics, in Las Vegas. The good-looking twins, Taiwo and Kehinde, who, when children, were mentally and emotionally scarred for life by their maternal uncle in Lagos, are struggling with their past trauma. The suicidal Kehinde becomes a successful artist. The aloof Taiwo is studying Law and is the editor of the Law Review at Colombia University. And the bulimic, discomfited Sadie, the youngest of the four and her mother’s favourite, is a student at Yale University.

The flashbacks and present events, which are viewed through a different angle according to each of the six main characters, move constantly throughout the story and are set between the USA, England and Africa. The reader follows each character and discovers the truth revealed in layers. Although the author meanders aimlessly in part one, “Gone”, the two other parts: “Going” and “Go” are more focused, delivering the main theme of the novel, being the trials and tribulations of the Sai family.

Kweku’s death reunites the fragmented family after so many years of separation. His wife and four children are all gathered under the same roof in their mother’s home in Ghana for the funeral. So many years have past and now comes the time of reckoning to heal and clear the unspoken feelings, thoughts and hopes.

Ghana Must Go is a touching story depicting how emotional, irrational decisions in a patriarchal family can affect the whole family’s life. It is also about the shame that follows failure which subsequently leads to forlornness.

The author deals with several themes in her novel: the immigration problem, the patriarchal society structure, the intermarriage issue which affects children who often spend their life searching for identity and feeling stateless, especially by being uprooted. The author also depicts the strong blood ties, racism, loneliness, the intricacies in family relationships and how childhood experience affects adult life, as well as strongly illustrating the complexity of the human psyche.

 

 

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Author:
• Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Here is a list of the books we have read and reviewed and will be reviewing in the coming months at the UNWG Book Club:

2003
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Human Stain by Philipp Roth

2004
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Youth & The End Of The Tether by Joseph Conrad
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf
Portrait In Sepia by Isabel Allende
Youth by John Coetzee

2005
Waiting by Ha Jin
Silk by Alessandro Baricco
Notes From The Hyena’s Belly by Nega Mezlekia
Crabwalk by Günter Grass
The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath
The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

2006
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Fear And Trembling by Amelie Nothomb
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Eve Green by Susan Fletcher
The Palace Tiger by Barbara Cleverly
The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Buddha Of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer

2007
The Bookseller Of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Embers by Sandor Marai
Palace Of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz
Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz
I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti
One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In The Country Of Men by Hisham Matar
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

2008
Staying On by Paul Scott
The Swallows Of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The Cairo House by Samia Serageldin
Keeping The World Away by Margaret Forster
The Speed Of Light by Javier Cercas
The Lady On My Left by Catherine Cookson
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
An Old Fashioned Arrangement by Susie Vereker
Tears Of The Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

2009
The Miniaturist by Kunal Basu
Mothers And Sons by Colm Toibin
The Blood Of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
So Many Ways To Begin by Jon McGregor
The Agüero Sisters by Cristina Garcia
The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda N. Adiche
That Summer In Paris by Abha Dawesar
The Island by Victoria Hislop

2010
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The Mission Song by John le Carré
The Conjuror’s Bird by Martin Davies
The Sea by John Banville
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
26a by Diana Evans
The Road Home by Rose Tremain

2011
Desert by Le Clézio
Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs
Rules of The Wild by Francesca Marciano
My Name is Salma by Fadia Faqir
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Nadirs by Herta Müller
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa El Aswany
Crow Stone by Jenni Mills

2012
The Other Hand (UK print) or Little Bee (USA print) by Chris Cleave. (Two different titles for the same novel depending on where you buy it).
The Siege by Ismail Kadare.
The Loner by Josephine Cox.
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
Okei by Mitsugu Saotome.
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett / La couleur des sentiments / Gute Geister.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga / Le tigre blanc / Der Weisse Tiger.
My Father’s Notebook by Kader Abdolah / Cunéiforme / Die Geheime Schrift.

2013
The Last Station by Jay Parini / Une année dans la vie de Tolstoi / Tolstojs Letztes Jahr.
The Invisible City by Emili Rosales / La ville invisible / Tiepolo und die Unsichtbare Stadt.
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod / La perte et le fracas.
Illuminations by Eva Hoffman.
Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher / Oasis du couchant / Sonnenuntergangs Oase.
Ignorance by Milan Kundera / L’ignorance / Die Unwissenheit.
Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice.
Softcore by Tirdad Zolghadr.
The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap.

2014
Honour by Elif Shafak / Crime D’honneur.
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes / Des fleurs pour Algernon.
Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye / Trois femmes puissantes.
Firmin by Sam Savage.
The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle / Embrouille en Provence.
The Year Of The Hare by Arto Paasilinna / Le lièvre de Vatanen.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain / Madame Hemingway.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen / Amours et autres enchantements.
The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh / Lignes d’ombres.

2015
The Map Of Love by Ahdaf Soueif / Lady Pacha.
The Secret History Of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vasquez / Histoire secrète du Costaguana.
Night Train To Lisbon by Pascal Mercier / Train de nuit pour Lisbonne.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell / Cette main qui a pris la mienne.
The Way To Paradise by Mario Vargas Liosa / Le Paradis-un peu plus loin.
The Sweetest Dream by Doris Lessing / Le rêve le plus doux de Doris Lessing.
The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker / Le détour de Gerbrand Bakker.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson / La dernière conquête du major Pettigrew de Helen Simonson.

2016
Coastliners by Joanne Harris / Voleurs de plage.
The Rock Of Tanios by Amin Maalouf / Le rocher de Tanios.
The Heart Of A Dog by Mikhail Boulgakov / Coeur de chien.
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin / La saison des mangues introuvables.
The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes / Une fille, qui danse.
Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie / Balzac et la petite tailleuse chinoise.
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi / Le ravissement des innocents.
Accabadora by Michela Murgia.
Hanna’s Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson / Hanna et ses filles.

2017
Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell / Epouser Mozart: Le roman des soeurs.
Please Look After Mother by Shin Kyung-Sook / Prends soin de maman.
Kartography by Kamila Shamsie / Kartographie.
All The Names by José Saramago / Tous les noms.
In The Skin Of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje / La peau d’un lion.
Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras.
Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson / Dans les coulisses du musée.
The Little Paris Bookshop By Nina George / La lettre oubliée.
The Masterpiece by Anna Enquist / Le chef-d’oeuvre.

2018
The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds by Selina Siak Chin Yoke.
How It All Began by Penelope Lively.
The Heart Has Its Reasons by Maria Duenas / Demain à Santa Cecilia.
The Violinist Of Venice by Alyssa Palombo.
The Woman On The Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford.
The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami / Les années douces.
The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson / L’analphabète qui savait compter.
A Piece Of The World by Christina Baker Kline.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan / Le club de la chance.

 

 

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