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First Novel - 'Ghana must go' - wins high praise for young Nigerian writer

4/10/2013, 1:08 p.m.
First Novel - 'Ghana must go' - wins high praise for young Nigerian writer

Apr. 9 (GIN) - Mentored by Toni Morrison and endorsed by Salman Rushdie, young writer Taiye Selasi has produced a new book which is exciting literary circles worldwide.

Ghana Must Go, her first novel, moves between West Africa and the east coast of the United States. Selasi examines both the fragility and durability of family life. In one scene in the book, a young woman who has developed an eating disorder in the pressure-cooker environment of Yale rediscovers her zest for life after dancing on a Ghanaian beach.

Born in London to a Ghanaian mother and Nigerian father, both doctors, Selasi and her twin sister were raised by their mother in the affluent Boston suburb of Brookline. She was by her own description "a championship student" whose training took her from an elite prep school to Yale and then Oxford, where she completed a masters' degree in international relations before leaving academia to work, briefly, at a hedge fund on Wall Street.

Selasi's upbringing mirrors that of the characters in Ghana Must Go, a family fractured by its many displacements yet burning with genius in every branch. The book is named after the Nigerian phrase directed at incoming Ghanaian refugees during political unrest in the 80s

Prior to the novel, Selasi published an essay titled Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What Is an Afropolitan?)" in a London magazine that won her a grassroots following.

"I describe myself as Afropolitan to suggest perhaps a more complicated African identity than the ones available to my parents' generation," Selasi said in a press interview.

"There are three criteria. Number one, some unbreakable bond to some country or countries in Africa. Number two, a global perspective. And three, a desire to effect change, however that manifests, in Africa for African people - in some way, somehow, at some point."

Also a photographer and filmmaker, she is currently raising funds for a documentary that will focus on the daily lives of young Africans.

"It just thrills me to no end to think that people will finally be able to see an alternative vision of how young people live in African countries - an alternative to the rather redundant representations of war and famine and chaos and so forth," she says.