Ghana

Wife of the Gods

"Mystery fans have an important new voice to savor." - Los Angeles Times

"Move over Alexander McCall Smith, Ghana has joined Botswana on the map of mystery." - Kirkus 

"Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field—and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he's been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana's capital city to lead a murder investigation. In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising medical student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu's indigenous language, so he's the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider's interference. For Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind 25 years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother's inexplicable disappearance. Armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, Dawson soon finds his cosmopolitan sensibilities clashing with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods. Delving deeper into the student's death, Dawson will uncover long-buried secrets that hit much too close to home."

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

Changes

"Esi decides to divorce after enduring yet another morning's marital rape. Though her friends and family remain baffled by her decision (after all, he doesn't beat her!), Esi holds fast. When she falls in love with a married man—wealthy, and able to arrange a polygamous marriage—the modern woman finds herself trapped in a new set of problems. Witty and compelling, Aidoo's novel, 'inaugurates a new realist style in African literature.'

A love story in a world where the working lives of women have changed, but cultural assumptions have not."

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

My First Coup d'Etat

"My First Coup d'Etat charts the coming of age of John Dramani Mahama (the former President of Ghana) during the dismal post-independence 'lost decades' of Africa. He was seven years old when rumors of that first coup reached his boarding school in Accra. His father was suddenly missing. 'It is sometimes incorrectly referred to in texts as a bloodless coup, yet it was anything but,' Mahama writes. 'They tried, as best they could, with smiles and toffee, to shield me from their rising anxiety but I could feel it bouncing off the quick sideways glances they shot one another and taking flight like some dark, winged creature.' John's father, a Minister of State, was in prison for more than a year. My First Coup d'Etat offers a look at the country that has long been considered Africa's success story—from its founding as the first sub-Saharan nation to gain independence, to its current status as the only nation on the continent to have, thus far, met the majority of targets on hunger, poverty, and education set by the U.N. But these stories work on many levels—as fables, as history, as cultural and political analysis, and of course as the memoir of a young man who, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, was destined to become a leader in his own land. These are stories that rise above their specific settings and transport the reader—much like the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Nadine Gordimer—into a world all their own, one which straddles a time lost and explores the universal human emotions of love, fear, faith, despair, loss, longing, and hope despite all else."

(A special thank you to book club member, Judy Tanguay for the suggestion.)

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

Not Without Flowers

In this contemporary work of women's fiction tinged with surrealism, Not Without Flowers provides insight into aspects of Ghanaian culture many readers may be unfamiliar with—polygamy along with the poor treatment of mental health & HIV.

"Amma Darko tells the story of women in Africa: here it is—misery, pain, agony, dilemmas, and frustrations. She floats the reader on a world of inverted reality, which yet becomes the norm. With creative imagination, confronting the social realities, she seeks out the world of peace and tranquility. But not without verisimilitude. The extremes of moral turpitude beget horrid outcomes, leaving suspense rather than resolution. 

Amma Darko is one of the most significant contemporary Ghanaian literary writers."

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

Ordained by the Oracle

Despite the rapid proliferation of Christianity in Ghana, indigenous religious beliefs & practices continue to exercise a profound influence on many  Ghanaians. Among the most widespread of these are a commitment to the reality of ancestral spirits, the necessity of appeasing them through the pouring of libations, & the unique traditional customs which must be performed during 40 days & nights of funeral rituals. 

In this internationally acclaimed novel, Ghanaian journalist Asare Konadu draws on rural life in Ghana to "vividly depict the conflicting strains of emotion and social behaviour of a prosperous trader named Boateng" who must participate in the traditional practices of Akan culture when his wife suddenly dies.

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

The Promise of Hope

Slain in a terrorist attack in Kenya, Awoonor did not live to see this final volume of his published, but his spirit endures through his verse which combines the poetic traditions of his native Ewe people of Ghana & contemporary symbolism to depict Africa during decolonization.

"Kofi Awoonor, one of Ghana’s most accomplished poets, had for almost half a century committed himself to teaching, political engagement, and the literary arts. The one constant that guided and shaped his many occupations and roles in life was poetry. The Promise of Hope is a beautifully edited collection of some of Awoonor’s most arresting work spanning almost fifty years. 

Selected and edited by Awoonor’s friend and colleague Kofi Anyidoho, himself a prominent poet and academic in Ghana, The Promise of Hope contains much of Awoonor’s most recent unpublished poetry, along with many of his anthologized and classic poems."

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)