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The God Child

by Nana Oforiatta Ayim

Debuts Family Drama Literary Fiction Modern and Contemporary Fiction Sharing Diverse Voices

LoveReading View on The God Child

From childhood in Germany and England to young womanhood in Ghana, this enthralling novel follows a steadfastly thoughtful Ghanaian forging her own identity in the face of fractured family ties, tragedy and colonial imperialism.

Though of illustrious heritage, Maya’s childhood as an émigré is complex, uncomfortable and evoked with lyrical precision. Her beautiful mother is self-absorbed, always scented with “powdery luxury” and critical of Maya. ”It’s a pity my child did not take my beauty”, she tells her reflection before counselling Maya to “always look more than perfect. Not just good enough, but perfect”. And Maya receives conflicting messages from her father too. “Boys will not like you if you are too clever”, he tells her, while also criticising an eight out of ten mark: “Why not ten out of ten? You must always do your best.” 

The arrival of cousin Kojo changes everything. His impassioned talk of Ghana fuels Maya’s understanding of her mother country, her parents, and her own identity. She observes that Kojo’s knowledge “gave him the power to upset the order of things,” leading her to wonder, “Could I learn these secrets and codes, even though I did not grow up in our country?” When she and Kojo are sent to schools in England, Maya experiences the racism of peers who “touched my hair and stroked my skin and passed me round on their laps like a doll”, and Kojo is bullied. No wonder then that he decides that, “this is nothing but a small shitty island that doesn’t work properly. It’s a cold wet Third World country, but they made us think they were all powerful.” Later back in Germany, Maya is maddened by the cultural imperialism of her education: “I could not think of much that was more frightening than fitting into this pinched-in sterile world.” 

Maya’s story is at once arresting and nuanced, and suffused in an elegant sense of triumph when she returns to Ghana, where Kojo has been struggling to set-up a museum, and in time finds her voice and purpose through navigating a tangle of personal misfortune and cultural complexities.

Joanne Owen

The God Child Synopsis

Maya grows up in Germany in the shadow of her beautiful, volatile mother: a whirlwind, spinning stories of the family's former glory.

Then Kojo arrives. Kojo has a way of talking about Ghana, and empire, and history - and for the first time, Maya understands that her parents are exiles. But fate intervenes, and the cousins are separated.

Returning to Ghana years later, Maya's homecoming sets off an exorcism of her country's darkest demons. In this destruction's wake Maya realises her purpose: to tell the story of her mother her cousin, their land and their loss, in her own voice.

The God Child Press Reviews

Meditative, gestural, philosophic: a brave reinvention of the immigrant narrative, unapologetically inward-facing, seductively lyric ... Unprecedented -- Taiye Selasi Adept, admirable, important - Guardian

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 -- Chibundu Onuzo A cultural juggernaut - Harper's Bazaar

Hugely readable ... Dizzying ... Intriguing and engrossing ... A classic coming-of-age narrative ... Deeply concerned with Ghanaian history and the psychic dislocations of exile - Daily Mail

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 - Vogue

One of the foremost architects of the contemporary African arts scene - Okay Africa

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781408882351
Publication date: 12/11/2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781408882429
Publication date: 14/11/2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408882351
Publication date: 12th November 2020
Author: Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 256 pages
Genres: Debuts, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Diverse Voices,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Nana Oforiatta Ayim

Nana Oforiatta Ayim is a Ghanaian writer, art historian and filmmaker. She is founder of the ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge, through which she has pioneered a pan-African Cultural Encyclopaedia. Recently appointed a TORCH Global South Visiting Fellow to Oxford University, she is also the recipient of the 2015 Art & Technology Award from LACMA; of the 2016 AIR Award; and of the inaugural 2018 Soros Arts Fellowship. She is a contributor to the 2019 New Daughters of Africa anthology and in February 2019 delivered a TED Talk. Ayim will curate the Ghana's first pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019. The God Child is ...

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