Taiye Selasi‘s debut Ghana Must Go – a Waterstones eleven choice for 2013, is our first Book of the Month for this year. Read her account of how she came to write her much acclaimed novel…
It’s hard to pinpoint precisely what inspired Ghana Must Go, though I remember the precise moment in which I received it. A dear friend had treated me to a yoga retreat in Sweden for my 30th birthday. It was there, at sunrise, relishing a shower, that the entire novel came to me: all six members of the Sai family, their pasts, their presents, their futures. I ran from the shower to pronounce to my friend, “I think I just found my novel!” She looked up and asked, quite logically, “Where?”
I still couldn’t say. I don’t know where this family came from, why they appeared so fully formed. But I had been waiting for them for a very, very long time. I knew from the age of four that I wanted to be a writer, but discovered only at thirty the difference between a ‘writer’ and ‘novelist.’ I’d always written—poetry, short stories, and after the Technological Revolution, long, florid emails—but it was six months before my 30th birthday that I finally resolved to be a writer. I quit my job with bold proclamations and took the road (Nigeria, India, Ghana). The trouble was, I didn’t actually have a book to write. I’d written a story, The Sex Lives of African Girls, which Professor Toni Morrison had urged me to expand. But that story wanted to be shorter, not longer. And so I was, desperately, waiting.
When this story appeared, that morning in Håa, I abandoned the retreat (which forbade computers) and went to Copenhagen to type the first ten pages. It took me six months to write the next ninety, two years to finish the book, but I’ll be forever grateful to the Sai family for making an honest novelist of this writer.
Taiye Selasi, for Waterstones.com/blog
You can Reserve & Collect Ghana Must Go from your local Waterstones bookshop (http://bit.ly/s6sdlu), buy it online at Waterstones.com (http://bit.ly/1ltklFO), or download the ePub eBook (http://bit.ly/1ltkskE)