Mittwoch, 24. Juli 2013

Ghana must go - a novel by Taiye Selasi

"We did what we knew. It was what we knew. Leaving.... We were immigrants. Immigrants leave."

Ghana must go is a beautifully, almost flawlessly written novel by author Taiye Selasi, born in London, raised in Boston, living in New York, New Delhi, Rome - WOW! That is impressing. I saw pictures of her and she is drop-dead-beautiful too. Like the parents in the book, her parents are from Nigeria and from Ghana, immigrants. Like the four siblings in the book, she was raised in Boston. I read a review which stated, it might be, could be, slightly autobiographical, she being the twinsister Taiwo in the story. I don't know if it is necessary to always try to discover, what is autobiographical about a book one reads and if at all it is the right of the reader to know. Either way an author shows a lot about herself, writing such a deep and moving novel.
I missed her public reading in Berlin, which I deeply regret. I think, to see this woman and hear her read must be quite an experience. As has been just reading her book. The language is never tiresome and absolutely beautiful. The way the story is constructed is skilfull.
reading by the pool
The story starts with the death of Kweku Sai in the garden of his self designed house in Accra/Ghana. He dies barefoot, though for all his adult life, it was most important for him to not show the soles of his feet, to not show the signs of his growing up barefoot and poor.
A brilliant surgeon, a father who has left his four children unannounced, a husband, who has left his beloved wife Fola unannounced, because he lost his job as surgeon in a Boston clinic (not his fault) and tried to hide that fact for a year, while he tried to get it back (hopeless). He left, because it was what he knew to do when a life fell apart. The book is a lot about letting people down, letting people go, things falling apart - people and things coming back together. What moves people to leave? What moves them to come back? Why does one let other people down? How does one react, when things fall apart? What is falling apart anyways?
Kwekus dying lasts for about the first onehundred pages of the book and is interwoven with the oncoming memories during Kwekus heartattack, set in motion through things he sees, dewdrops for example, on the grass. These memories and associations introduce us to his children, his wife, his former life and starts the action. His dying can not have lasted much longer then five to ten minutes - though Selasi stretched it to become the first third of her book I never, not for one sentence did wait for it to be over. Taiye Selasi writes in a way that, though you might be confused at moments (what? he is still dying, we are on page 78 by now!) but it is a good confusion. It brings you out of a somewhat too phlegmatic state of thinking in your usual patterns.
Also the characters are unusual, not one chlichè among them, though she might come close at times, but never fully surrenders - the unusual, the individual, the character you have never met before, remains in every single person she develops on the page.In the end I wished I could have met them all in reality - and regretted again, that I did not go to Selasis reading.

The book is also available in german, where it is called "Diese Dinge geschehen nicht einfach so"

© Susanne Becker

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