Catapult. Oct. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781646220830. $26. F
Six months after her mother’s death, Anna Bain delves into her mom’s old brass trunk and meets her father for the first time. Francis Aggrey’s diary details his years in London, where he studied, dabbled in African politics, and fell for Anna’s mother, Bronwyn. He returned home to Bamana in West Africa before he learned of the pregnancy. As a biracial child raised by a white mother who dismissed the racially motivated slights that her daughter endured on the streets, in shops, and at school, Anna recognizes in her father a kindred spirit and wonders again why her mother never wrote to Francis to tell him of their child. Research leads Anna to discover that her father, now named Kofi Adjei, had become the prime minister, then controversial president of Bamana. At a crossroads, an empty nester in the process of divorce, Anna travels to West Africa in search of her roots, but can she distinguish the mythic Francis from the reality of Kofi?
VERDICT 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.
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