Friday, March 1, 2013

"Ghana Must Go'' the next big book

Ghana must go Taiye Selasi

Taiye Selasi's literary debut  ''Ghana must go'' is getting heavy backing from her publisher.

The sprawling novel about an African family dispersed throughout the world has also taken Ms. Selasi around the world. The book is being published in 14 countries besides the U.S.

Penguin Press, is committed to making the first time author a literary star.

Touted by Penguin as "one of the most eagerly anticipated debut novels of the year," the book has glowing cover blurbs from fellow world traveler (and Penguin author) Elizabeth Gilbert ("Eat, Pray, Love"), who calls it "staggering," and from Sapphire ("Push"), who says it's "mesmerizing."

An early review from Publishers Weekly says "Ghana Must Go" is greeted with ''greater warmth and vibrancy."

Patricia Bostelman, vice president of marketing for Barnes & Noble, says the store has selected the book as part of its "Discover Great New Writers" program and will display it prominently in stores and online.

The book tells the story of a family of six whose surviving members are reunited after the father, a renowned surgeon, dies of a heart attack in Ghana. All have lived with the aftermath of his abandonment of the family years earlier.

So how did a slender 33-year-old woman in panther leggings, with one short story to her name, get teed up to be the next big thing in publishing?
Ghana Must Go book
Ghana Must Go is available at Barnes and Noble

Ms. Selasi attended Milton Academy and Yale University. Then she was off to Oxford, where she studied international relations until she decided, in 2005, it was time to get back to her first love, writing. She penned a play, which was produced at a small theater by Avery Willis, who is Toni Morrison's niece.

Ms. Selasi says the idea for "Ghana Must Go" came to her while she was on another yoga retreat, this time in Sweden. "I was in the shower and the idea for 'Ghana' came to me whole," she says. She wrote 100 pages, essentially the first part of "Ghana Must Go," over the next six months. Then, she says, through "a friend of a friend" she got the book to Mr. Wylie, who signed the first-time novelist right away. She declines to name the friend, but early reports said Salman Rushdie, who is a client of Mr. Wylie's, championed the book.

Mr. Wylie submitted the 100 pages and an outline to publishers on a Thursday, and by Monday, Ms. Godoff had put in an offer for an undisclosed sum. The figure was enough to give Ms. Selasi writer's block for the next six months. "Every sentence I wrote didn't feel up to the deal," she says.


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