Apr 20, 2021
published in Germany this week
Nana Oforiatta Ayim's The God Child
Described as 'engrossing and memorable' by Ben Okri and as ‘..a brave reinvention of the immigrant narrative’ by Taiye Selasi, The God Child is published in Germany this week by Penguin Verlag
Maya grows up in Germany knowing that her parents are different: from one another, and from the rest of the world. Her reserved, studious father is distant; and her beautiful, volatile mother is a whirlwind, with a penchant for lavish shopping sprees and a mesmerising power for spinning stories of the family's former glory – of what was had, and what was lost.
And then Kojo arrives one Christmas, like an annunciation: Maya's cousin, and her mother's godson. Kojo has a way with words – a way of talking about Ghana, and empire, and what happens when a country's treasures are spirited away by colonialists. For the first time, Maya has someone who can help her understand why exile has made her parents the way they are. But then Maya and Kojo are separated, shuttled off to school in England, where they come face to face with the maddening rituals of Empire.
Returning to Ghana as a young woman, Maya is reunited with her powerful but increasingly troubled cousin. Her homecoming will set off an exorcism of their family and country's strangest, darkest demons. It is in this destruction's wake that Maya realises her own purpose: to tell the story of her mother, her cousin, their land and their loss, on her own terms, in her own voice.
Praise for The God Child
“I read this novel very slowly. I didn't want to miss anything ... It is a rich, beautiful book and when I got to the end, I wanted to start again”
“A story that, like this one, will illuminate Ghana's history; a story that will coax something whole from the broken parts of their lives”
New York Times Book Review
“Pioneering and admirable … Ayim is adept at capturing the anxiety of a preteen whose desire to fit in is exacerbated by being black in a world where blackness and Africa are not valued… Books such as The God Child have the potential to enrich [world literature] and, in Berger's words, bring new ways of seeing”
“A cultural juggernaut”
“Hugely readable … Dizzying … Intriguing and engrossing … A classic coming-of-age narrative … Deeply concerned with Ghanaian history and the psychic dislocations of exile”
“It is a rare kind of woman who enjoys a project so vast that it's practically unfinishable, but Nana Oforiatta Ayim, a Ghanaian writer and historian, never quits what she has started”
“One of the foremost architects of the contemporary African arts scene”
“An intriguing debut … From gender politics to life as a young black immigrant in Europe, the central themes are invigorated through rich characterisation and detail … A lyrical prose style swoops the reader into its fold from the outset … Brightly detailed … Vibrant in its themes, prose and characterisation”