Sankofa: Book summary and reviews of Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

Sankofa

A Novel

by Chibundu Onuzo

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo X
Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo
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  • Published Oct 2021
    304 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

Girl, Woman, Other meets An American Marriage in this gripping story of a mixed-race woman who goes in search of the African father she never knew, by a prize-winning writer who "brilliantly captures the essence of a people and a place" (Nicole Dennis-Benn).

Masterful in its examination of freedom, prejudice, and personal and public inheritance, Sankofa is a story for anyone who has ever gone looking for a clear identity or home, and found something more complex in its place.

Anna is at a stage of her life when she's beginning to wonder who she really is. She has separated from her husband, her daughter is all grown up, and her mother—the only parent who raised her—is dead.

Searching through her mother's belongings one day, Anna finds clues about the African father she never knew. His student diaries chronicle his involvement in radical politics in 1970s London. Anna discovers that he eventually became the president—some would say dictator—of a small nation in West Africa. And he is still alive...

When Anna decides to track her father down, a journey begins that is disarmingly moving, funny, and fascinating. Like the metaphorical bird that gives the novel its name, Sankofa expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present to address universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for a family's hidden roots.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A middle-aged, mixed-race woman struggles with several crises in Nigerian writer Onuzu's spellbinding latest...Onuzu's spare style elegantly cuts to the core of her themes...The balancing of Anna's soul-searching with her thrilling discoveries makes for a satisfying endeavor." - Publishers Weekly

"Francis Aggrey/Kofi Adjei is a fantastic, charismatic character, and every scene he's in crackles with energy...An engagingly written journey of self-discovery." - Kirkus Reviews

"Themes that Onuzo visited in 2018's Welcome to Lagos, including unscrupulous politicians, irresponsible journalism, and the yawning gap between rich and poor, feel deeply personal as Anna's journey unfolds. Though the quest for identity has become a conventional staple of contemporary fiction, it feels fresh and new in Onuzo's capable hands." - Library Journal

"Sankofa asks all the right questions about how our parents shape our lives." - Refinery29

"The slick pacing and unpredictable developments—especially in the depiction of Anna's enigmatic father—keep the reader alert right up to the novel's exhilarating ending...Onuzo lifts the narrative into an entirely unexpected space. She shows that the healing of fractures and a desire for wholeness can be achieved in the most unexpected of places." - The Guardian (UK)

"An engaging, intelligent novel that disassembles the pieces of a woman's identity and puts them back together in a new pattern, shuffling the boundaries of the personal, political, and historical." - Aysegul Savas, author of Walking on the Ceiling and White on White

This information about Sankofa was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Chibundu Onuzo

Chibundu Onuzo was born in Lagos, Nigeria and lives in London. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and regular contributor to the Guardian, she is the winner of a Betty Trask Award, has been shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Commonwealth Book Prize, and the RSL Encore Award, and has been longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and Etisalat Literature Prize. The author of Welcome to Lagos, Sankofa is her third novel.

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